Unions beseech MPs to shoot down Health bill
George Kebaso and KNA
Health sector trade unions, led by the Kenya Medical Practitioners Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU), yesterday prevailed upon Parliament to shoot down the Health Amendment Bill, 2021, arguing that it poses a threat to the sector.
During a press conference outside the National Assembly, KMPDU officials pointed out that the sponsors of the Bill are determined to interfere with the existing management of the health sector, which has largely been independent.
KMPDU Secretary General, Dr Davji Atellah pointed out that there is a well choreographed scheme to prevent the sector from self-regulation.
“The Bill is attempting to capture the essential services,” Atellah termed the sponsorship of the Bill.
Some of the key areas he pointed out are that the Bill is focused on doing is to the removal of professionals from the councils and boards.
“This is clearly going to lead to the loss of regulations in place in the event the Bill is passed by Parliament,” he said.
Managing health facilities
He said if the Bill sails through, it will remove the health cadres from managing health facilities and replaced them with non-professionals, as those who will be delegated with the role of selection may not adhere to professionalism.
“Very soon we will have hospitals and different facilities being led and managed by non-medical professionals and in this regard the technical know-how and operations of those facilities will be lost,” said Dr Atellah.
It’s sad; he said that the Bill provides that members of the council and board be directly appointed by the Health Cabinet Secretary raising concern that this will pave the way for political appointees and cronies.
“As professionals we believe that peer to peer regulations is under national process and must be well observed in our country for us to get quality services for every institution and to every level,” he said.
On his part, Kenya Union of Clinical Officers (KUCO), National Chairman, Peterson Wachira, said it is only Members of Parliament (MPs), who will save the country from the tragedy that is about to befall the health sector by rejecting the Bill.
“We are here to ask Parliamentarians that the Health Laws Amendment Bill of 2021, deserves only one action of rejection in total, so that we can go for consultations so as to come up with a Bill that is progressive and is going to work for Wanjiku,” he added.
He noted that the Health Amendment Bill will prevent the achievement of the ambitious Universal Health Coverage (UHC) scheme in the country, adding that the quality of health service is among the pillars that make up the UHC.
Weighing on the matter, the President of the Kenya Dental Associations, Dr Tim Theuri, said there has been a systemic and very well calculated move, that is now showing that the health professionals are not being recognised and not being allowed to do their work in the country.
On the floor of the House, before National Assembly Speaker ruled on the matter, MPs raised a number of issues regarding the Bill.
Rarieda MP, Otiende Amolo said the proposed removal of professionals from the health councils and boards is an insult to the profession.
“These are not public offices, these are professional offices, how can then the president come on to determine for professionals who to be their chair, that’s unconstitutional,” he argued.
Tongaren MP Dr Eseli Simiyu said if he were to be regulated by the medical council, it would be difficult since he pays his subscriptions, and money to run the council.
“How can I not be on that board or council but regulated by someone else? This is madness,” he added.
Seme MP, Dr James Nyikal said from the word go the Bill is unconstitutional as there was no public participation.
“The Ministry brought us written conclusions, which were later denied by the members. I blame the Ministry,” he added.
Garissa Township MP, the former National Assembly Majority Leader, Aden Duale who brought the Bill to parliament questioned the criteria of the government running boards without any check and balances.
Muturi ruled that he needs to look at all that happened and the contribution before giving his opinion as stipulated by the law.
“For the time being we will allow the debate to continue and the ruling will come in due course,” he said.