NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 11 – A Sh14 billion increase in the 2015/16 healthcare budget from the previous financial year was not well received by public healthcare practitioners who argued that it was insufficient.
The Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union Secretary General Oluga Ouma told Capital FM News that the Ebola scare and cholera outbreak in the last financial year that prompted the Treasury to release emergency funds, should have led to a greater increase in the healthcare budget.
Of particular concern, he said, was the national government’s failure to allocate more funds to the training of medical specialists and to cater for the promotion of doctors in public hospitals.
“We only have 450 specialists in the country. That’s because healthcare workers are taken for granted in this country so they’re forced to seek more lucrative opportunities outside,” he said.
Making it necessary, he said, for the National and County Governments to develop a policy to guide the promotion and hiring of public healthcare practitioners.
Otherwise, he argued, the Sh4.5 billion the National Government has budgeted in the 2015/16 financial year for the Managed Medical Equipment Services (MES) project would not be effectively put to use due to a lack of technical expertise.
“It’ll just end up being a public relations exercise and we’ll still see Machakos County ambulances in their number parked outside the Kenyatta National Hospital.”
When the Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich presented the budget to the National Assembly on Thursday however, he said the country was reaping the gains of the Jubilee government’s health investment strategy.
The Sh7 billion allocated to free maternity services in the last two years, he said, had seen a decline in maternal and infant mortality and increased its allocation to Sh4.3 billion.
“Cases of maternal deaths in the country have reduced from 500 to 488 per 100,000 live births annually,” he said; Kenya being among the countries with the worst maternal and infant mortality rates.
Despite their difference of opinion on where the priorities in the health sector lie, personnel versus equipment, Ouma and Rotich agreed that a sick nation cannot be a productive nation.