NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 25 – The National Nurses Association of Kenya has supported President Uhuru Kenyatta’s choice of James Macharia as the Health Secretary nominee.
The association’s chairman Jeremiah Maina said on Thursday that a financial expert (Macharia is the Group Managing Director of NIC Bank) 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 reiterated.
Maina argued that there are numerous examples of people who have successfully run companies in fields they are not technically qualified in.
“We have Kenyatta National Hospital which is turning around, somebody from KWS (Kenya Wildlife Services) is doing it. We have Kenya Airways, I believe the CEO Titus (Naikuni) is not a pilot. They are moving. So what we are saying is that you do not have to be born there.”
Maina added that the short supply of medical personnel in the country alone is reason enough to leave the administrative work to Macharia, “Why do you want to train a surgeon and after qualifying as a surgeon you post them in a hospital to be going for meetings?”
The nurses have taken a stand contrary to that of the Kenya Medical Association which insists the ministry would be better managed by a medical professional and have called on parliament to rubber stamp Kenyatta’s choice.
Maina would also like to see the parliamentarians push for a 15 percent budgetary allocation to the Ministry of Health, “We want every Kenyan to enjoy quality healthcare. We want a referral hospital in every county as well as specialised staff.”
The nurses are also adamant that a medical background should not be a pre-requisite in the selection of health managers at the county level.
At the end of the day, the association’s Vice Chairman Winnie Shena would like whoever takes over the ministry to look into the concerns that led them to strike in December. “Nurses have stagnated in one job for 10 years. You do not need a doctor to come and promote you. You need proper human resource systems!”
Macharia’s nomination to the health docket has elicited varied reactions and in a pre-emptive statement on Tuesday, the banker assured the public that he is equal to the task.
“With strategies which we shall put together, the teamwork of colleagues and the support of the entire country I believe we shall overcome and achieve a lot for the benefit of our country.”