NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 12 – The Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) and the Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN) have asked the Transitional Authority to postpone the devolution of their pay.,
The unions say the Transitional Authority plans to transfer the responsibility of their remuneration from the National to the County governments beginning July, the start of the next financial year, which they say is too soon.
“The counties are not ready. Everybody knows that the county service boards have not been put in place. The counties themselves are trying to find their footing, yet we choose to experiment with the single sector whose challenges can result in life and death spontaneously,” KMPDU Chairman Victor Ng’ani said at a press briefing on Wednesday.
KMPDU and KNUN therefore want the disbursement of their pay to remain a function of the National government, “How will people who are fighting for salary increment take care of healthcare workers?” KNUN Secretary General Seth Panyako posed.
The unions went on to accuse the Transitional Authority Chairman Kinuthia Wamwangi of not engaging them in consultations regarding the devolution of the healthcare sector and have vowed ‘drastic action’ if their grievance is not addressed.
“Anything short of that, we can promise the government, that we are going to institute a powerful fight come July. We are not going to allow devolution of emoluments for nurses to county governments,” Panyako threatened.
Wamwangi, speaking separately to Capital FM News, was however adamant that the decentralisation of healthcare is inevitable and that would include health workers’ terms of pay.
Health Secretary James Macharia was more amenable to the unions’ demands saying that wide consultations would be carried out in the devolution process so that all concerns are taken into account.
Outside matters pay, KNUN repeated their call for the government to recruit nurses who will help shoulder the increased number of expectant mothers visiting public health facilities on account of the scrapped maternity fees.
“We are asking the government to immediately, employ at least 40,000 nurses. That is non-negotiable. We cannot have one nurse conducting 50 deliveries within a period of five hours. That’s witchcraft. It’s not nursing practice,” Panyako said.
The budget statement reading slated for Thursday did not escape the medical practitioners’ notice and they said the Sh34, 747, 676, 245 allocated to the Ministry of Health is too little.