Government urged to resolve medics’ demands without threats
Wangari Njuguna and Roy Lumbe
Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe has come under criticism over the handling of healthcare workers welfare amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Kagwe has been at the centre of a storm over the ongoing strike by doctors and nurses and what the government is doing to address their grievances.
Interestingly, instead of addressing issues raised by medical practitioners, the CS has been issuing sack threats.
“If the striking workers continue being adamant, those who have boycotted duties should resume work or face the sack,” said Kagwe.
However, this has not gone well with a section of leaders who urged Kagwe to handle the health workers strike with sobriety.
Kandara MP Alice Wahome said chest thumping and issuing threats to the medics will not solve the current crisis.
Speaking in Murang’a, the MP said Kagwe’s remarks were uncalled for, adding that only proper negotiations will solve the issues.
Wahome urged the government to give the fight against Covid-19 priority by suspending all other agendas that are not urgent.
“Everything else including the BBI and the referendum can wait until we manage the corona pandemic,” she added.
Her sentiments were echoed by the parliamentary health committee chair Sabina Chege who said no medic should be sent home or victimised.
“I can assure the medics that we are working to resolve this issue. All we need from them is a little patience,” she added.
On Tuesday, Health CS Mutahi Kagwe accused the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) of politicising the death of Dr Stephen Mogusu.
Speaking during an interview with Citizen Television station, Kagwe acknowledged that it was unfortunate that the family had to lose their son at such a tender age.
“When the union was saying that the doctor had not been paid there was a delay, but we did pay, I can separate the issue of genuine mourning and genuine feelings and the issue of using the young man’s death for a union’s political purposes,” said Kagwe.
On the Covid-19 pandemic scandal, Kagwe said the saga had not dented his record.
Kagwe acknowledged that there was desperation for PPEs worldwide, hence the discrepancy in prices.
“The irregularity was for Kemsa to try and get goods without knowledge by the Ministry of Health and the budget for goods procured.
Kemsa board needs to be consulted for all procurements above the budget,” he said.
On the transparency of the tendering process, Kagwe noted that the process at Kemsa is now under the Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS)and all loopholes will be sealed.
“There is an ongoing investigation and our hands are tied on what we can do. We must be patient before making changes,” he said.
A report by Auditor General Nancy Gathungu on the procurement scandal at KEMSA revealed that Sh2.3 billion was lost in procuring Covid-19 medical supplies.