Counties will no longer clash with the national government on health matters but will instead work together to harmonise and improve the sector.
The new Council of Governors (CoG) Health Committee Chairman Mohamed Kuti said the long running row between the national and county governments on health will end once challenges are addressed.
Dr Kuti urged the national government to equip counties to deal with cancer patients at their level.
“This is better than crowding the cancer patients in a central place because they wait for six months at Kenyatta National Hospital to seek treatment, which worsens their condition,” he said.
The chairman said that if cancer management and treatment was devolved to the 47 regions and the hospitals are equipped to handle the patients, there will be more efficient services.
“An appeal had been made to centralise cancer management and treatment but in our CoG meeting some time back. We felt strongly that we can handle it but we need our capacities to be enhanced,” he added.
Speaking to the Nation after being elected during an induction retreat for governors and their deputies at Diani Reef Hotel, he said health was fully devolved but there was a lack of coordination, communication, capacity building and human resource management.
“Health has been one of the difficult dockets in the sense that devolution happened on July 2013 without considering the capacity of the counties.
“The sudden way in which health was devolved was like a pre-term baby,” Dr Kuti said.
During the meeting, the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) also called on county governments to recruit 1,000 more doctors who have been waiting for deployment for the past one year to address a shortage of health workers.
The union’s secretary general Ouma Oluga appealed to the governors and President Uhuru Kenyatta to recruit more doctors in order to achieve free universal health care coverage.
Besides addressing the deficit of 35,000 workers, the union boss also called on governors to improve the working conditions of health workers to avoid the exodus that was witnessed this year.
According to Dr Oluga, about 600 doctors have left county jobs for greener pastures abroad or joined private practice.
“Since December last year, 300 doctors have resigned and another 300 gone for further studies. In Nakuru, 24 doctors have left the county,” he said.
“There is still some hesitancy by counties, some understandably because of issues of finance.”
Dr Kuti noted that signing of the collective bargaining agreements for doctors and nurses was a challenge in the sector and was being resolved.
“Positive development has happened, especially on human resource issues,” he said. “We are now at a closure of the chaotic period. It is now upon the CoG and the Ministry of Health to implement the CBA.”
The Isiolo governor said he will hold talks with all cadres of health staff to thwart any industrial action.
He also said he will call a meeting with donors to synchronise the national and county resources to improve health care services.
Dr Oluga urged the government to build a robust, efficient and responsible health care system so that every disease will be tackled easily.
The union boss said all public hospitals should be fully equipped to diagnose malaria, cancer, kidney and other chronic diseases.
Dr Oluga said the national and county governments should not fight on who will run the cancer treatment centres.
For the last four years, he said, Kenyans had faced challenges accessing health services in the counties.
He however lauded governors saying there had been a lot of improvement.
Although counties were not getting enough funds from the national government, they were not properly managing the little that they got, he said.
“Even the monies they are getting are not being put into proper use. As doctors, we have assured governors we will support them in the planning,” he said.