National Malaria Programme staff call for head's removal

Muchangi told the Star she could not comment on the allegations

In Summary

• They said her character has led to high demotivation, high levels of stress, tension, infighting and squabbling among the staff

• Staff say her demeaning behavior has created resentment among the programme’s development partners. 

Health CS Mutahi Kagwe
Health CS Mutahi Kagwe

More than 30 staff in the Division of National Malaria Programme at the Health ministry are demanding the removal of their boss Grace Muchangi from office.

In a letter addressed to the Health CS Mutahi Kagwe, the employees have accused Muchangi of creating disharmony and igniting flames of discord among staff.

The letter was copied to the PS, Ag Director General, Ag Director of Medical Services/Preventive and Promotive Health and the director human resources.

The letter seen by the Star says Muchangi's demeaning behaviour has created resentment among the programme’s development partners, many of whom have opted to remove or reduce their support, thus seriously affecting the programme's agenda.  

When reached for comment, Muchangi told the Star on the phone that she has no authority to talk to the media. "I have no comment. I suggest that you call the Director General's office," she said.

DG Patrick Amoth told the Star that the issue had been “resolved administratively by the ministry” but did not disclose further details on the matter.  

he workers accused Muchangi of resorting to intimidating key members of staff to an extent of meddling in their personal lives and attacking them in meetings with the view of discrediting and fixing them.

They said her character has led to high demotivation, stress, tension, infighting and squabbling among the staff.

“Her arrogant, disrespectful and dismissive attitude towards the partners has scared many of them away. We are privy to reports that some of the partners have formally complained to the PS on the discourteous manner in which Grace has treated them,” the letter reads.

The disgruntled staff also pointed out that partners rarely visit Muchangi's office for fear of being rudely dismissed, making the programme lose a lot of technical and financial partner support that is much needed for the effective fight against malaria.  

They accused Muchangi of poorly handling last year’s malaria outbreak between August and October in Baringo, West Pokot and Turkana counties.

Tens of lives were lost.

“Another instance is the current stock out of all first-line anti-malarial drugs at the central stores that can be attributed to Muchangi’s lack of proper coordination coupled with disgruntled partners and programme officers,” the workers wrote.

“The current Global Fund Malaria Grant is performing dismally. When Muchangi came in, the grant was performing at a rating of A2. In the latest rating, we are down to B1 which will definitely go down further to C given the current commodity stock-outs and the low testing rates.”  

The staff say there has always been a delay in activities because she has elevated inexperienced juniors to run the show. 

They say they are worried that bearing in mind that the country is about to get into the high transmission season for malaria, they feel vulnerable and ill-prepared.

The division is expected to start a massive mass net distribution exercise to be carried out in 27 endemic and epidemic-prone counties this year.

“Further to this, the programme is at the critical juncture where we are beginning the process of proposal writing for the new malaria grant and the Kenya Malaria Indicator Survey. We have completely lost faith in her leadership and are hereby calling for her immediate removal.”

They said the division’s goal can only be realised by a strong visionary and experienced leader with a proven track record and who can steer the programme in harmony and cohesion.

"We remain committed to the fight against malaria and we pray that you will carefully consider our request and act in the best interest of the malaria programme and of the communities that we serve."

In the letter, they also identified a recent incident where the division head was chased by people in quarantine. It had to take the intervention of senior officers from the ministry who had - on a number of occasions – been called in to quell the situation.

The malaria programme had been assigned several Covid-19 quarantine centres to manage but there were constant squabbling and upheavals at Kanu hostel at KMTC as a result of the manner in which she handled the people that were being quarantined.

The Director DMS/ PPH Pacifica Onyancha in a letter to Muchangi and copied to Joseph Kibachio, confirmed receipt of the anonymous letter from staff.

“You are hereby asked to immediately respond to the allegations stated in the letter,” Onyancha asked Muchangi.


Edited by R.Wamochie