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Train community health workers to avoid overcrowding in referral hospitals, Kitui MCA says

 Kitui County is battling serious challenges which hinder its realisation of universal healthcare. Key among these setbacks are rampant corruption and wastage as well as embezzlement of public funds.

Mwingi Level Four Hospital is among health facilities in Kitui County suffering from lack of health equipment in addressing community healthcare including Covid-19 pandemic. Photo/FILE

This has been revealed by Kitui County MCAs in a report that involved visiting Singapore last year to benchmark on the best practices to employ in improving healthcare in the county.

The Governor Charity Ngilu-led county has experienced doctors strikes, go slows and shortage of drugs leading to patients reverting to private hospitals or travelling to other counties for medical care. This is usually expensive and unaffordable for most residents.

In its report, the Assembly states that “Proper checks and balances should be instituted with a view to ensuring efficiency, cost reduction in offering health services in order to realize an effective service delivery for quality and affordable healthcare for all”.

In its recommendations, the committee says that community health volunteers should be well trained. It says that they be promoted to community health officers and be dedicated in serving the less fortunate in the community’s dispensaries and health centres.

A well-trained community health worker is able to tackle minor healthcare needs. The ward reps learnt this in their Singapore Healthcare trip.

Another aspect they learnt is that a well empowered local level healthcare team will reduce the cases of overcrowding level four facilities in the counties. They recommend that cases that cannot be managed in the dispensaries and health centres be referred to level four hospitals for specialist treatment. This, they say, will reduce overcrowding of the sick in level four hospitals due to cases which can be handled at lower-level hospitals.

The MCAs visited Singapore for eight days in February 2020 to study health financing and management. The committee on health and sanitation was led by Kitui Township MCA Anthony Ndoo Mwanzia.

On September 10, 2020, Health workers went on strike in Kitui after going without pay from more than two months which they said was a breach of their agreement with the Ngilu government.

“We would like to bring to your attention that doctors in Kitui County Government have not received their monthly wages for over two months… This is in addition to no health cover for doctors in that county and perennial non-promotion”, the statement read in part.

Kenya Medical Practitioners and Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) Lower Eastern Branch instructed its members to seek employment in other counties to avoid going hungry over long duration without pay. They did not say anything about the fate of the ordinary wananchi who solely rely on public health services.

On July 19, 2019, nurses and clinical officers at Kitui County Referral Hospital boycotted work and marched to Governor Charity Ngilu’s office over delayed June salaries. The lunchtime boycott was dispersed after the doctors were addressed by their union officials. All top county staff ignored the doctors and were unavailable to address their grievances.


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