NAIROBI Governor Evans Kidero has directed the County Public Service Board to hire new medics to replace those who are on strike. He said the devolution of health services cannot be reversed any time soon, as it is enshrined in the constitution.
"The issue is a legislative one and the Constitution of Kenya under schedule four provides for devolved health services and we can't reverse that unless the law is changed, which will of course take time and we will not allow our people to suffer."
After chairing a crisis meeting of Nairobi County Medical Superintendents in his office, Kidero directed the service board to immediately hire 60 doctors, 47 clinical officers, 436 nurses, 12 radiographers, 20 lab technicians, 12 pharmacists and 15 anaesthetists. He also gave a stern warning to the interns who have joined the striking medics.
Kidero told the interns they had upto 4pm yesterday to resume work or risk losing out on the evaluation of their internship. "We have tried to engage the health workers but only a few have been reporting and I am now directing the county health services to recruit the officers to replace those who have deserted duties," he said.
Kidero said this action was necessitated after health workers countrywide enter the eighth day of their strike to oppose plans to devolve their services. He asked those qualified to report immediately for deployment.
"Those who have qualifications should report immediately to the medical superintendents at Mama Lucy Hospital's, Dr Ogato; Pumwani Maternity Hospital's Dr Omondi Kumba; and Dr Andrew Sule of Mbagathi District Hospital."Let the people do the applications and report immediately," the governor said.
Mama Lucy is the hardest hit, as it has been forced to close down while operations at Mbagathi are slow, with the most affected being HIV-Aids and TB patients who frequent the hospital.
The governor said all medical staff on strike will be dismissed once they recruit their replacements in the best interest of Nairobians.
"Obviously if you have walked away from duty and when you return there is someone in your office, we can only take you on board where there is demand," he said .
Kidero said in spite of ongoing negotiations between the medics and the government, the county will not stop hiring new staff."They have deserted duty despite a court order barring the same," he said.