Kenyan healthcare workers have threatened to down their tools in seven days over what they term as perennial salary delays.

In a joint statement read by Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) Secretary General Dr Davji Atellah on Tuesday, April 11, the medics drawn from various unions slammed the government over failure to disburse funds to counties in time, resulting in a cash crunch in the devolved units.

The workers cited a letter by the Council of Governors Anne Waiguru which indicates that the national government owes counties Ksh92 billion for the financial year 2022/2023.

They said the National Treasury’s failure to disburse the funds to counties has continued to cripple operations in all 47 counties by affecting the timely payment of salaries of workers who provide crucial services.

“It has been over ten years since health was devolved. It is worrying that no proper framework has been established to ensure healthcare services function efficiently and effectively,” Dr Atellah said.

“Kenyans have witnessed numerous blame games between national and county governments concerning finances, drug and equipment acquisition, employment of healthcare workers which have led to the detriment of the healthcare service delivery. This blame game is unwarranted and does not serve the interest of anyone especially the sick who need the health services as enshrined in the constitution.”

The workers said close to 40 counties have neither paid healthcare workers their salaries nor remitted statutory deductions, affecting the workers’ standards of living and productivity.

“The few that have managed to pay salaries, have reported having arrangements with banks for overdrafts and loans,” the unions said.

“We find it preposterous that government employees, especially those that provide essential services in the health sector, are continuously inundated with notifications of delayed salary payments and statutory deductions.

“Healthcare is a public good and an essential service unfortunately, the essential service providers cannot access their pay like other public servants managed by the National Government such as the independent commissions e.g. police and Teachers Service Commission. It is damning to say the least that, our members cannot afford the same services they offer.”

The healthcare workers have threatened to paralyse operations in public hospitals begging next week if their demands are not met.

The unions want the national government to release funds to counties forthwith for payment of salaries and remittance of statutory deductions and also establish a mechanism to pay healthcare workers directly from a central point.

They also want the national government to set aside a budget for annual recruitment of 20,000 additional healthcare workers as promised to Kenyans.

“The Ministry of Health constitutes a joint national taskforce to do a health audit and provide long-term solutions to the numerous challenges facing health service delivery in Kenya,” the workers said.

“Within 7 days, counties that shall have not paid the salaries and statutory deductions should not expect healthcare workers to report on duty,” Dr Attelah warned.

“It is only through this, and various other recommendations made by the union to the national government in the recent past, that we – as a country – will be able to fix healthcare and make it work for all Kenyans,” he added.

The demands come at a time civil servants continue to experience unprecedented salary delays amid reports of a cash crunch at the National Treasury.

“It is true we are having challenges in paying salaries and giving money to governors because the handshake government ruined this economy. They borrowed money left, right and centre,” the DP told a congregation at PCEA Ngorano Center Church in Mathira, Nyeri County.

“Because we are a responsible government, we have to pay this money.”

“What we collected the last two weeks was sufficient to pay the loans. What we are collecting this week will pay salaries and other requirements,” he added.


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