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March 24, 2018

Kenya producing 600 doctors a year but counties not hiring - survey

Striking health workers at Uhuru Park in Nairobi, September 2015. Photo/PATRICK VIDIJA
Striking health workers at Uhuru Park in Nairobi, September 2015. Photo/PATRICK VIDIJA

Kenya produces 600 doctors a year but many do not get employed by counties, a medical association official has said, painting a grim picture of the public health sector.

KMPPDU secretary general Ouma Oluga spoke following a survey that found Kenya needs 83,000 doctors to meet WHO standards and fully address challenges, yet loses 25 a month.

The doctor to patient ratio is one to 17,000 against WHO's ratio of one to 1,000, revealed the study by the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union.

The survey found that Kenya has 3,956 doctors in the public sector but that the number drops by the month as more doctors resign.

The country's healthcare is "headed for the rocks", Oluga said in Naivasha on Thursday, adding the public health sector is being dealt a major blow.

Oluga noted that in the last two years, the country has lost more than 2,000 doctors, most of whom were in the public sector.

He faulted county governments saying they "have failed" following the devolution of health functions as they "oppress" health workers forcing them to resign or find other jobs.

“We are doing very poorly in terms of the doctor to patient ratio, in relation to the World Health Organization standard, and the situation is getting worse as more doctors resign,” he said.

Speaking in Naivasha on Thursday, Oluga said county officials harass health workers, whose salaries he said are delayed, adding their working conditions are poor.

“Many health workers are demoralised due to the poor working environment. In the end it is members of the public suffer,” he said.

Public health workers in several counties have in the past gone on strike over pay, leaving patients stranded or having to seek alternative healthcare when they can afford it.

Oluga asked Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu to meet the Council of Governors for a solution into what he termed a crisis.


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