By Aghan Daniel
This year, the Ministry of Health was allocated Sh 34.7 billion.
This is the money that will be shared with the county governments. My first point here is, as things stand currently are County governments prepared to provide effective health services? Which branch of government will pay salaries for doctors, nurses, and other health workers? Are our county governments really ready to take charge of health financing in their areas of jurisdiction? To me, I feel that for the next one year, let the central government continue to pay these workers as systems are put in place to embrace devolved health financing.
I was listening to a radio station this morning and the expert being interviewed said that there is a lot of apathy by Nyanza residents on taking up medicine as a practice. How do we expect to have people who can understand some cultural orientations among this group of people to effectively do their work if their sons and daughters give medical school a wide berth? In any case, in most of the appointments that I have seen at the county level, even professionals are appointed from the same region, how much will this impact on health sector?
As we think about the mess that is likely to be experienced in the public health sector, journalists should look at both sides of the coin – to also query the role of the private sector such as the church – will the church continue to milk county residents dry in pursuit of huge profits? I talk about this because I come from Kendu Bay a predominantly Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) area where costs at a hospital like Kendu Mission Hospital are way above what the locals can afford. The residents therefore resort to the government institutions in the area whose hallmark is sharing of beds (not due to lack but due to mismanagement and theft by the health officials at the local level).
Finally as journalists take up the watchdog role of ensuring the county governments perform, the governments should be reminded that Schedule 4 of the Kenya Constitution 2010 assigns to the County Governments the function of delivering essential health services, and to the National Government, the functions of stewardship for health policy and oversight of national referral health facilities. The health sector, therefore has a fundamental duty to take legislative, policy and other measures, including the setting of standards, to achieve progressive realization of the right to the highest attainable standard of health for every Kenyan as enshrined in the Constitution.