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Bill seeks to end rampant healthcare workers’ strike

By Hillary Mageka
Thursday, November 19th, 2020
Doctors during a past protest in Nairobi over a failed Collective Bargaining Agreement. Photo/PD/File
In summary

Hillary Mageka @hillarymageka

A protracted struggle by medics to have a commission mandated to set national standards for their training, recruitment, welfare, career development and schemes of service, could finally be realised if a proposed senate Bill is enacted.

Health (Amendment) Bill 2020 also seeks to end a recurrent health crisis that has marred public hospitals whenever medics go on strike.

Proposal could offer huge relief for health workers union representatives, who have been agitating for commission similar to the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) to be included in the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) constitutional review report.

Sponsored by Wajir Senator Abdullahi Ali, the bill seeks to address among other concerns; welfare of health workers and also to provide an elaborate framework for management of human resources for health by both the national and county governments.

It also seeks to introduce a replica of a health service commission that the medics have been agitating to be included in the BBI report.

 “Bill seeks to enhance the functions of the Kenya Health Human Resource Advisory Council in a bid to empower it to advise the national and  respective county governments on health human resources,” the Bill. 

It further states: “This Bill seeks to enhance the scope of the functions of the council.

The proposed enhanced functions of the council will affect the dual functions of counties to manage health facilities and hire human resources for health,” it further states.

According to the Bill, the proposed creation of the council shall review and advise the two levels of governments just like TSC on remuneration, recruitment, training and transfer of the health care professionals.

Law further states that the council shall undertake an audit of health care workers in the national health system and advise the governments of the gaps in recruitment, employment and deployment of registered workers.

“The council shall advise the national and the respective county governments on the promotion of health care professionals and review and make recommendations for inter-county transfer of healthcare professionals,” the Bill states.

If approved by both Houses of Parliament and signed into law by the President, the bill will address the welfare issues that have been at the center frequent industrial strikes by the medics.

Enhanced mandate

 “The council’s enhanced mandate is expected to improve health service delivery in devolved units through the promotion of cooperation between the two levels of government in the critical area of Human Resources for Health,” the Senator says in the Bill.

Currently, the principal Act mandates the council to review policy and establish uniform norms and standards for; posting of interns to national and county government facilities; inter-county transfer of healthcare professionals and transfer of healthcare workers from one level of Government to another.

Council also advises on the management and rotation of specialists and maintains a master register for all health practitioners in counties.

“Due to the enhanced responsibilities of the council, the Bill also proposes to increase the representation of the County Public Service Boards in the council.”

“This is because counties are expected to employ the bulk of the Health human resources and decisions of the Board are likely to greatly influence functions of county governments in regard to employment of health human resources,” the Bill.

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