NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 15 – Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu and Principal Secretary Nicholas Muraguri have given assurance that they will work together to ensure that the health crisis in the country is resolved.
Speaking before the Senate Health Committee, PS Muraguri stated that he will personally head the delegation from the ministry in the negotiations to end the doctors’ strike once the doctors’ union officials are released.
While expressing regret at what he termed as “misconceived perceptions” on his relations with the Cabinet Secretary, Muraguri said he always consulted with the CS and both had agreed on the modalities of setting up the negotiating team.
“We had discussed and agreed. There was a common understanding on who should take leadership. It was a miscommunication and misconception that we were not in good terms. I know my space as a PS and how I should relate with the CS,” he stated.
He indicated that he has a good professional working relationship with CS Mailu whom he says has taken a fine lead in the talks.
He further refuted claims that he had been engaged in underhand deals which led to a collapse of the talks with doctors’ union officials.
“I will use everything in my power to end the strike. I want to confirm that I have never engaged in any underhand deals with the doctors and any such allegations are untrue,” he declared.
The CS on his part emphasised the need for more focus on the resolution of the current strike which is in its third month.
“I want to clarify that at no time did I discuss any changes to the negotiating team from the ministry with the PS. Nonetheless, I accept the apology. However, in my opinion, emphasis should be on trying to resolve the current situation with the doctors which is causing a lot of suffering to Kenyans,” he said.
The Senate Health Committee Chairman Wilfred Machage urged the two to resolve their differences as it was having a negative impact on the health sector.
He indicated that should if they fail to do so, President Uhuru Kenyatta should be compelled to address the situation in the Ministry of Health.
“We have listened to you and my final words to you is that you should get your house in order. You should start working together because this has made the situation worse. Should that not happen, then we appeal to President Uhuru Kenyatta to come in and iron it out,” he stated.
When the committee went ahead to ask Mailu the mechanisms he had put in place to end the industrial action, he stated that a mechanism has been put in place to ensure that once negotiations resume, the doctors strike is resolved once and for all this time.
“I have consulted widely with the AG and they put in place a legal staff whose agenda is to do everything in their power to ensure the doctors are free. The government does not want to obstruct the release of the doctors and discussions are ongoing. It is in the best interest of the country for the officials to come back to the table,” he stated.
The committee has now summoned the Council of Governors to appear before it in seven days time.
As the session ended, the Court of Appeal ordered the release of all the seven doctors’ union officials pending the determination of their case.
The release order was issued Wednesday morning following an application by a team of lawyers representing them, who pleaded with the court to set them free.
The court has also directed the Law Society of Kenya and the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights to lead the stalled pay talks so as to get doctors back to work as soon as possible.