Medics fault ministry’s proposed law

Wednesday, July 15th, 2020 00:00 |
Knun secretary general Seth Panyako (left), his Kenya Union of Clinical Officers counterpart George Gibore (centre) and Peter Mwangi during the health unions press briefing in Nairobi yesterday. Photo/PD/GERALD ITHANA

Unions in the health sector yesterday   accused the Ministry of Health of losing direction in the fight against Covid-19 at a time when the virus is spreading rapidly among health workers.

The unions said that by proposing amendments to the current health laws amid a fledgling war against Covid-19, the Ministry has lost focus, and the country should be prepared for the worst.

The proposed Health Law (Amendments) Bill, 2020 according to the unions, lacks merit; is in bad faith and has a hidden agenda that mainly seeks to oppress the healthcare worker in Kenya.

“It has come to our attention that the Ministry of Health has secretly made a proposal to amend several health regulatory laws dubbed “Health Laws (Amendments) Bill, 2020.

Its movers are insensitive to the country’s healthcare worker because they are pushing the amendments at a time when health practitioners’ services are needed more than ever in the Covid-19 fight,” the Unions said in statement read by Kenya Union of Clinical Officers (KUCO) Secretary General, George Gibore at Railways Club, Nairobi.

The unions castigated the proposal claiming it purports to make various wide-ranging amendments to various health related statutes on matters associated with the health policy in the name of fostering a model designed to improve efficiency; service delivery, realisation of the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and the Big 4 Agenda, among others.

Proposed amendments 

“The main purpose of the proposed amendments is to alter the composition of the professional regulatory body by populating them with lay persons to serve their selfish interests,” KMPDU acting secretary, Chibanzi Mwachonda said.

For instance, Mwachonda argued that whereas the Bill proposes to remove the director general of health from the regulatory bodies, it intends to replace him with the Principal Secretary, a move they said, will deny the professional regulatory bodies the benefit of the DG as the technical advisor in the Health Council.

“It is common knowledge that in case of disputes in the Council, the PS is ordinarily the arbitrator, hence having him or her as a member of the Council shall result in conflict of interest.

The proposal to remove professional association from the regulatory bodies also is ill-advised and does not serve the interest of any professional,” he added.

“We wish to reiterate that we oppose the proposed amendments and remain available as we have always been to be consulted on the best qualities to govern the health system,” said Mwachonda.

Kenya Health Professional Society chairman, Mohammed Duba said that the proposal to remove professional associations from the Councils amounts to gagging the voice of the health professional in its regulatory body.

“The Acts as they are already meet the requirements of Mwongozo Kenya and totally observe the provisions of the Constitution, Health Act 2017 and other related health laws,” he said.

The unions accused cartels at the MoH of being behind the latest move to amend the health laws by taking advantage of the health workers busy schedule during this period of Covid pandemic as frontline workers.

Other unions represented at the news conference were  Kenya National Union of Nurses, Kenya National Union of Medical laboratory Officers, Kenya National Union of Pharmaceutical Technologists and Kenya Union of Nutritionists and Dietitians.

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