NAIROBI Kenya, Apr 26 – An umbrella body representing other professionals in the healthcare sector who are not doctors and nurses has welcomed the nomination of James Macharia as the Secretary for Health.
The Kenya Health Professionals Society (KHPS) National Chairman Wesley Tomno said on Friday that the health sector needs a manager to institute much needed reforms.
“We pay homage to Macharia’s astute managerial skills that he has secured for years in his previous professional undertakings; we have no doubt that he will bring in his wider experience to nourish our sickly health care system,” he said.
Macharia was named on Tuesday by President Uhuru Kenyatta as his nominee for the health docket, but the move has received opposition from doctors under the Kenya Medical Association.
Macharia is a financial sector expert and has most recently served as the Group Managing Director of NIC Bank. Doctors have however argued that a healthcare practitioner would be the most suitable person to head the ministry as they have first hand working knowledge of the sector.
But KHPS which represents other cadres in the medical field like clinicians, lab technicians and others said the sector needs a professional manager.
“In the past decade the ministry has been headed by non-medics and we have seen positive shift in the management of the national healthcare system, unlike when the ministry was being run by medics,” Tomno argued. “We wish to remind them (critics) that under Richard Lesiyampe, The Kenyatta National Hospital CEO who does not have a medical background… it has made great strides.”
KHPS has in the meantime urged the designate secretary to address all the daunting challenges facing the health sector.
“We are calling on him to make healthcare reforms a priority in the Ministry of Health as envisaged in the Bill of Rights under the Constitution,” Tomno urged.
“We are making this statement on behalf of thousands of dedicated public health officers who work hard every day to execute Ministry of Health’s mission of providing essential services and protecting the health care of Kenyan people.”
Their position is in tandem with the stand taken by the National Nurses Association on Thursday, which lauded the president’s choice of Macharia.
The association’s chairman Jeremiah Maina said that a financial expert is exactly what the public health sector needs to ensure the money allocated to it is properly utilised.
“Doctors and nurses have had to go to the streets every time they want a salary jump and we rely on donors for most of the medicine in this country. We don’t need a doctor, we need a manager,” Maina said.