By Prof Gitile Naituli
The government and health workers have been playing deadly ping pong games characteristic of the insane tricks played by matatu touts and the traffic police. The crisis in the health sector has led to cyclic annual civil war pitting doctors on one side and government on the other. At the end of the day, the victims end up being the most vulnerable, the patients. The recurrent nature of strikes by health sector workers paints the picture of leadership failure both at the national and county governments levels.

It is only in failed states where patients can be allowed to suffer and lose their lives because of doctors getting engaged in an industrial action. If there is anything that calls for an urgent prevention measure is a strike by health workers. At no time should a hospital be turned into a chamber of suffering and misery during peace time in a country that values its citizens. The measure of leadership is the ability to anticipate, detect and douse the fire before it spreads out of control.

The ministry of health is among those that receive the highest budgetary allocations. However, the priorities are upside down. Health sector being a devolved function, one wonders why over 80 percent of the money is kept at Afya house while the little amount left is sent to the counties. It is important to know what the national bureaucracy does with the lion share of the money considering that hospitals under the national watch are less than 10. But, it’s not easy to let go of the lucrative tenders for medical supplies. I’m not in any way stating that the counties are any better. I am only insisting that there should be accountability at all levels. Last year, we were treated to a horrifying drama where a governor sent her relatives and in-laws to china to go and inspect some cancer machines. None of those in the delegation had any training on medical engineering or health sciences. It’s like sending a medical doctor to conduct a geological survey of the Himalayas and determine the type of minerals underneath.

In a nutshell, the ministry of health is rotten top bottom. Doctors have been turned into scapegoats in a macabre festival as the government sacrifices the health of its own citizens. The ministry is a laissez-faire mart for tenderpreneurship. Public health, which is a basic right guaranteed by the constitution, has been reduced into a pyrrhic aspiration, a privilege for the few who can afford treatment in private hospitals. Taking care of the doctors and other health workers is at the core of returning sanity to the sector. Considering the level of wastage and corruption at the ministry and the counties, health workers are only seeking a paltry. It’s important for the government to step down from arrogance and brinkmanship and heed to the cries of doctors.
The governors too should create conducive environment for the doctors in order for them to render their services without unnecessary hindrance and frustration. With competent leadership, industrial disputes are solved through negotiation as opposed to power play and litigation. It is only after an agreement that the settlement is registered in court.

Why is the government so obsessed with the housing project when it cannot take care of people’s health? Of course, judged in the light of the transactional nature of this regime, your answer to the above question is as good as mine.
Why has the opposition been largely silent in the face of grave malpractices by the government? Because opposition has been fighting to occupy the position of the chief warder instead of investing in efforts to break the prison walls.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here