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Medics Petitions Health CS Nakhumicha For Unprofessionalism

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Medics have put Health Cabinet Secretary Susan Nakhumicha on the spot over her recent appointments.

 A day after she made appointments to key positions in some Semi-Autonomous Government Agencies (SAGAs) under her ministry on April 20, healthcare unions poked holes in the move, noting that the CS acted unprofessionally.

Unions demanded that the CS withdraws all the appointments she made last Wednesday within a week, accusing her of breaching key values and principles in the public service.

 “Please note that this should be addressed within the next seven days failure to which we shall take unspecified action without further notice to you,” they said in a joint statement, emphasing that any fresh appointments should be done by a team that acknowledges and represents the diversity within the health sector.

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Further, in a petition to the CS received on April 20, the leadership of the unions termed the exercise as opaque and lacked transparency.

Led by Kenya Union of Clinical Officers (KUCO), the leadership from Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN), Kenya Health Professional Society and the Union of Biomedical Engineers of Kenya (UBEK) want the positions advertised and filled competitively.

 “All key stakeholders should be engaged and involved in making the appointments,” they said, expressing apprehension on the CS sudden move which they noted largely overlooked the Public Service Policy guidelines.

 “The exclusive appointments shocked most of us who had expectations that the new and diverse leadership would finally reform the ministry for the better,” unions added.  Under Article 232 of the Constitution, for instance, the unions accuse Nakhumicha of going against the principle of fair competition and merit as the basis of appointments and promotions.  In Article 10 of the Constitution, the unions raise issue with the CS for not applying national values and principles of governance on inclusively, equality, non-discrimination, transparency and integrity.

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There have been murmurs that Dr Patrick Amoth, who was retained in acting capacity as Director General of Health for a successful fourth year, should have been confirmed. This, owing to majority, was his sterling performance during the Covid-19 pandemic delivering technical explanation and advise on the deadly disease.

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Other issues

KUCO National Chairman Peterson Wachira yesterday felt that Nakhumicha’s silence since the unions raised these issues is unhelpful.

Unions further noted that despite Kenya Kwanza having prioritised primary healthcare in its plan to achieve Universal Health Care, the appointments are a sharp contrast to the plan since the professionals at the centre of primary health have been excluded from the decision and policy-making table.

Several divisions

“Ministry is not keen to observe the law in terms of such very fundamental appointments, which, in the end are geared to ensure that service delivery within the health sector is enhanced and made efficient,” the unions stated.

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On Wednesday, the CS reorganised the Ministry of Health by naming five directorates, each with several divisions under them. About 54 top heads were affected in six SAGAs under the ministry.

Subsequently, the unions are questioning whether the CS consulted the Ministerial Human Resource Management Advisory Committee , a body established by the Constitution, on the recruitment, selection and appointment.

“We want the Health CS to engage all key stakeholders in the health sector,” the medics said .

They have since called for the advertisement of such positions to be filled competitively by all cadres within the sector.

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