NAIROBI, Kenya Aug 18 – Governors are calling for amendments to the Health Bill which is currently before the National Assembly saying it does not recognise the roles of county and national governments.
Members of the Council of Governors who met the National Assembly’s’ Health Committee on Tuesday to discuss the proposed legislation, said the Bill is unconstitutional because it does not reflect the institutions at county level.
Kisumu County Governor Jack Ranguma says there is need to overhaul the law to ensure both levels of government consult in setting and formulating policy guidelines and standards of health services and facilities.
Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto said they also object to a clause that empowers the Health Cabinet Secretary to unilaterally appoint officers.
“We would like you to have an interaction with us and understand what healthcare has actually done; we want you to do a tour and come we show you the progress not just the negatives you get from a few disgruntled doctors,” Ruto stated.
Ruto and Kisii County Governor James Ongwae refuted claims of deteriorating quality healthcare standards in the counties. They maintained the services had improved after devolution.
“I am not aware of any Level Five Hospital under a county which has not improved… I am not sure that we have failed to actually offer services. I am not sure that national government which did not do anything in 50 years will do any better than we are doing. So you may want to rethink that particular area,” said Ongwae.
The Governors instead blamed the National Treasury for industrial strikes in counties because of unpaid salaries dating back to June.
“The months of June, July and August is an issue that you need to help us in Parliament, because it is not only health workers. If we are heard here talking about health works it would not be fair, it is all the workers in the county. In some where we have savings like me we have paid but you don’t want a system like that because you are running a national system,” the Kisii Governor explained.
Endebees MP Robert Pukose and his Seme counterpart James Nyikal said their visits across the country indicate there is a problem in the provision of health facilities by county governments.
“We are also aware that there are areas where health is actually in bad state. I was a medical superintendent so when I say it is bad, I know what I am talking about,” Pukose said.
Nyikal added: “When we were devolving we didn’t use the Transition to Devolved Government Act, and Transitional Authority which could have answered many questions, but died in its infancy. So let us just not kill anything because anything centralised must go to national government.”