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Health officials give government seven day ultimatum to address UHC contracts



Health professionals in the country are now threatening to stage a boycott over what they term as discriminatory appointments to positions of leadership within the Ministry of Health. In a statement to the press, the consortium of Health Sector Unions and Society accused officials in Afya House of deliberately favoring one cadre of specialty in appointments to specific divisions within the ministry.

The Public Service Commission (PSC) had earlier this week published an advertisement for appointments to the office of Director General, Deputy Director General and heads of divisions within the ministry. But stakeholders in the health sector have since taken issue with the statutory requirements to the positions advertised terming them discriminatory.

Kenya Union of Clinical Officers (KUCO) Chairperson Peterson Wachira faulted officials within the ministry of health of contravening the court’s judgement, following a ruling by Judge Bryam Onganya that quashed similar appointments to the ministry dated 19th April 2023. It was the determination of the courts that the appointments made were a violation of Article 47 of the Constitution adding that they lacked a holistic representation of the health sector and therefore proved detrimental to the efficiency of service delivery to the public.

“We want to know for the record whether the health sector belongs only to medical doctors. Our fate cannot be decided by only one cadre,”said Kenya Health Professionals Society Chairperson, Mohammed Duba. The health officials implored PS Health, Mary Muriuki to ensure inclusivity and public participation in development of career progression guidelines for health management officers before forwarding the proposals to the PSC and issued a seven-day ultimatum to the commission to retract the advertisement.

The clinicians have also raised concerns over the ministry’s failure to give direction to about 8, 500 staff who were contracted in 2019 under the Universal Health Care (UHC) program on the fate their employment, despite all their contracts ending in May this year.

 “It was resolved that they be absorbed into a permanent workforce when their contracts expire as the experience and training they have already acquired will continue to support the County’s health systems,” said Cabinet Secretary Susan Wafula following deliberations with the Council of Governors (COG) at a retreat in 2022. With unshaken conviction, KUCO Secretary General George Gibore called on the MOH and the Council of Governors to convene an urgent consultative meeting on the absorption of all staff under the UHC program by Friday 1st March 2024, failure to which they would mobilize all UHC staff to hold countrywide demonstrations until their grievances were heard.

The health professionals are also demanding a resumption of the posting of new interns within the next seven days. “It is becoming a discomforting norm interns have to demonstrate or protest to be posted for internship. These delays are costly to these interns as they cannot engage in any income generating activity without their practicing licenses”, said the official statement from health professionals. The ministry now has until Monday 4th March 2024 to respond to the petition from the clinicians with industrial action in the offing.