NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 24 – The Kenya Medical Association is opposed to banker James Macharia heading the Health docket following Tuesday’s nomination by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
KMA National Chairman Elly Nyaim told journalists on Wednesday that the association did not want to bank on Macharia’s leadership credentials because he had no technical experience in the medical field.
Nyaim argued that President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto were gambling with Kenyans’ health aspects by nominating an individual who did not understand the nitty-gritty’s of the health docket.
“We must not experiment with the lives and health of Kenyans. We believe that it is only a health professional that can literally hit the ground running and protect and enhance the lives of Kenyans,” he argued.
The association further noted that of the four nominees picked by the two principals, it was only Macharia who lacked prior experience in his proposed administration.
The association instead fronted Chief Executive Officer of the Nairobi Hospital Cleopa Mailu and University of Nairobi (UON) Vice Chancellor George Magoha, as some of the individuals who were most suited for the job.
“When they looked for a Foreign Affairs nominee, they got someone who was actually working there. When they got a nominee for the National Treasury they picked someone who has been working in that sector and the same for ICT,” Nyaim pointed out.
“What is it about health that we must get outsiders?” he asked.
The association however had a daunting task of convincing journalists that the health docket must be headed by a medical professional. This is because Magoha, though a doctor, is heading a learning institution.
The Chief Executive Officer at the Kenyatta National Hospital Richard Lesiyampe has no background in the medical field but he has done a commendable job at the referral hospital.
Nyaim however dismissed the concerns maintaining that Magoha’s work at the UoN was proof enough that doctors also had managerial skills.
“My point still stands because if you combine someone who has technical knowledge in the area that they are going into and managerial skills, they do much better than if you bring an outsider,” he stressed.
KMA Eldoret branch Chairman Lukoye Atwoli added his voice to the debate, saying Magoha had taught at the UoN’s surgery department for a long time before rising through the ranks.
He also said that the health docket had for a long time been headed by political cronies as opposed to professionals and that the cyclic trend was to blame for the problems that had dogged it.
Atwoli cited statistics around maternal-infant mortality as well as the depreciating financing of mental health as some of the flaws.
He noted that in the late 90s the health ministry was headed by Jackson Kalweo before Charity Ngilu took up the post in 2003. She then handed over the leadership mantle to Anyang’ Nyong’o and Beth Mugo when the ministry was split into two as a result of the coalition government.
The coalition government has since become obsolete and in its place is the Jubilee government, headed by Kenyatta and Ruto.
“If you are coming in to give a policy background and you do not know what happens in that particular ministry it will take you a very long time before you are in a position where you can comfortably discuss policy issues,” argued Atwoli.
The group further felt that it was not enough for Macharia to be surrounded by top medical officers, working under him, to make sure he remains in the loop as long as he did not have the technical experience.