, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 10 – The government has released Sh550 million to settle the standoff with public health officials over commuter allowances.
Speaking to journalists on Thursday, Medical Services Minister Anyang Nyong’o said the money would be used to pay the officers’ dues for the current financial year and would be disbursed to four medical parastatals.
He however pointed out that the monies were only applicable for the current financial year and would not be backdated to any period after that.
He further urged medical staff to remain patient as the government puts in place sufficient measures to solve the impasse.
“Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) will get Sh227.6 million, the Kenya Medical Training College will receive Sh136.1 million, while the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital and the Kenya Medical Supplies Agency will get Sh167.6 million and Sh18.7 million respectively,” revealed Nyong’o.
He however observed that the country’s health sector was still facing financial constraints that were delaying the realisation of key reforms.
Nyong’o also argued that the delay in the disbursement of the allowance was to be blamed on the current inflation rates, which were also hampering government operations.
He explained that the volatility of the shilling had forced the Treasury to re-evaluate the current national budget and realign it to the present economic conditions.
“The shilling has lost its value against the dollar so the budget had to be rationalised because there are certain things that are urgent like the purchase of medicine. Of course we have really tried the patience of our workers but I also understand that the Treasury is going through difficult times,” he said.
Nyong’o also said that there had been no casualties at the largest referral hospital in the country as a result of the go-slow.
He also admitted that the country’s medical facilities were still understaffed arguing that the matter could be attributed to the past regime, which failed to focus on the provision of health care.
“At the moment I think we have about 27,000 nurses in the public sector but we require 64,000; that gap is huge. We now have about 31 medical training colleges but we need 47; we have eight medical schools nationally but we need 35,” he said.
Nyong’o further observed that a lot of public officials had resorted to industrial action in a bid to have their concerns addressed. He however argued that there were better ways of handling such concerns.
University dons in public institutions are currently on strike demanding better pay.
“You remember that character in literature who was always asking for more? Citizens of this country are like that; they keep demanding for more,” he said on a light note.
On Wednesday operations at the KNH were paralysed with more than 4,000 workers going on strike over pay arrears.
The workers from various departments reported to work in the morning but did not carry out their normal duties, causing a major crisis at the hospital.
They claim that the government had already paid the allowances to other civil servants but was yet to pay them the negotiated allowance accrued from July to date.
Only patients at the Intensive Care Unit and High Dependency Unit were attended to but those in other departments and wards did not receive services.