Kenya: Doctors Reject Call for Adoption of New Strategic Plan

20 September 2019

Doctors have threatened to reject a strategic plan set to be adopted by the Health ministry because they were not involved in its development.

Healthcare professionals, led by the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU), Thursday turned down the ministry's invitation to validate the strategic plan.

HEALTH WORKERS

In a letter addressed to Dr Wekesa Masasabi, the Director-General for Health, Ministry of Health, KMPDU secretary general Ouma Oluga cited two reasons for declining the invitation.

He said the document was not shared for them to interrogate it before the meeting, and that they were not consulted during the drafting phase.

The letter read in part: "We will distance ourselves from the set of documents to be validated ... and any policy affecting training, development and deployment without the input of doctors through their recognised body."

The strategic plan, a 179-page document, is designed to provide a framework for national and county governments on how to manage health workers.

If adopted the document, drafted by IntraHealth International -- an American NGO the Health ministry contracted -- will guide practitioners on planning, management and development of human resources at the national and county government levels.

CRITICAL

"To better align the health workforce to the universal health coverage aspirations, the interventions in this strategic plan are informed by a theory of change anchored on three key strategic drivers namely efficiency, adaptability and innovation," notes Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki in the document.

The strategic plan says it will address "the most critical human resource for health challenges across multiple intervention areas through four strategic investment priorities namely, re-engineered health workforce management for universal health coverage; transformative health workforce capability building; strengthened human resource for health database through national health workforce accounts; and responsive leadership and management systems."

Dr Oluga insists that health workers should be part and parcel of developing any document touching on the management of the sector. "We were not consulted in the development of the document, so we have not interrogated it," he said.

"There's no way NGOs can be given priority in drafting bad policies that keep harming the health workforce. Especially because we have always wanted MoH to solve the problem of specialists training," he said.

STRIKES

The meeting is scheduled to take place Friday.

The Health ministry indicated that the strategy "was ready for finalisation".

The invitation letter, signed by Dr Masasabi, said the document had "engaged several stakeholders".

Mr Gibore Maroah, the Kenya Union of Clinical Officers (Kuco) chief executive, said he had agreed to attend the meeting although he knew nothing about the document.

"I've asked them to send me a copy since noon, it has been coming I suppose," he told the Nation.

Doctors have since 2015 called for the government to set up a health service commission to address employment, deployment and the discipline of health sector professionals.

The call was sparked by devolution of the health sector, a move that has seen county bosses deal with numerous strikes, pay disputes and absenteeism.

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