Governors: We won’t relinquish health functions
Governors yesterday vowed never to let go the health functions to the national government saying those pushing for were enemies of devolution.
They said the health function was at the heart of devolution and counties would instead build on the gains so far made to ensure Kenyans enjoy better and efficient health care services.
Speaking during a virtual meeting, the county chiefs also defended their January move to enter into an accord with the National Government under the Intergovernmental Partnership Agreements (IPAs) stating it is meant to accelerate implementation of the Universal Healthcare Coverage (UHC).
The discussions, which were hosted by the Senate Committee on Health chair Trans Nzoia Senator Michael Mbito saw the county chiefs led by Governors Mohamed Kuti (Isiolo), who is also the Council of Governors Health committee chair, Alfred Mutua (Machakos), James Ongwae (Kisii) and Sospeter Ojamoong (Busia) address various issues.
“The health sector in the country has recorded immense progress under devolution especially primary healthcare which was in shambles before,” said Kuti.
The Isiolo governor, who blamed Covid-19 for hampering implementation of UHC, said through the Community Health Programme that has been strengthened in the last seven years, counties had addressed diarrheal diseases, seen more children being vaccinated and more pregnant mothers delivering in health facilities.
“Devolution of health to counties has also seen marked reduction of distances covered by patients to health facilities; improvement of health infrastructure in county hospitals, expansion of provision healthcare services and increase of health personnel in the country among other gains,” Kuti added.
He warned that any attempt to take back even a single health function to the National government would require a national conference to discuss the issue.
“Because of devolution, in Isiolo County, we have opened two sub-county health facilities and have seen two caesarean surgeries taking place that have never been done since independence; we have put an oxygen plant; an operating theatre and a doctors’ place at the Garbatula Hospital. We have also advertised for radiology services,” said Kuti.
Mutua accused a powerful cartel of multinational pharmaceutical companies of fighting to have the National Government take back the health function so that they can “cut deals” with corrupt officials at the Health ministry.