INSTABILITY

Frequent reshuffles at Ministry of Health bad, Uhuru told

The endless changes create instability and are bad for donor relations, say civil society

In Summary

•Five Cabinet Secretaries have worked at the ministry in the last five years. 

•Six principal secretaries have been moved through the ministry in the last five years.

President Uhuru has been warned the frequent reshuffles in the Ministry of Health are bad and will derail his plan for universal health coverage.

The civil society members noted the ministry has now seen four cabinet secretaries within five years.

Six Principal Secretaries have also walked through the ministry in a similar number of years. 

 

People living with HIV warned that frequent changes create instability and are bad for donor relations. 

HIV, TB and Malaria, and child vaccine programmes are heavily funded by donors. 

"New CSs must learn how Universal Health Coverage works, institutions like Global Fund, Pepfar and must know what we mean by Kenphia (Kenya Population-based HIV Impact Assessment). This takes time," said the head of the National Empowerment of People Living with HIV in Kenya Nelson Otuoma.

He noted it takes years for a new CS to get acquainted with health systems, partners and different projects.

"But just when they begin to understand these things, they are changed," he lamented. 

The ministry has now seen four Cabinet Secretaries within five years. These are James Macharia, who left in 2015; Dr Cleopa Mailu, moved in January 2018; Sicily Kariuki, moved on Tuesday; and new nominee Mutahi Kagwe.

Kariuki had begun to successfully roll out out the UHC nationally when she was moved to the Water docket on Tuesday.

She had also secured the largest ever HIV grant from Global Fund, amounting to Sh42 billion.

 
 

The principal secretaries, since late 2014, have been Fred Segor, Khadija Kassachoon, Nicholas Muraguri, Julius Korir, Peter Tum and currently Susan Mochache.

 

Doctors praised the president's appointments but called for more stability in health.

Dr Ouma Oluga, the secretary-general of the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union, said institutions under the Ministry of Health need substantive heads who can make evidence-based decisions. 

Due to the frequent changes, many health institutions are currently headed by acting heads. 

These include the NHIF, Kenyatta University Referral Hospital and the Kenya Medical and Dentists Board, where the terms of board members have expired.

Oluga welcomed the Health nominee Mutahi Kagwe and incoming CAS Dr Mercy Mwangangi. 

"We hope the new nominee can appoint substantive heads to these organisations," he said.