DEMOTIVATED

Take health workers’ grievances seriously

In Summary
  • Their issues require not only an immediate intervention but also a sincere discourse on the human resource function for a lasting solution.
  • A motivated, united and harmonious workforce will achieve organisational objectives.
Health unionists led by Kenya Union of Clinical Officers chairperson Peterson Wachira at a Nairobi hotel on October 28, 2020.
Health unionists led by Kenya Union of Clinical Officers chairperson Peterson Wachira at a Nairobi hotel on October 28, 2020.
Image: WILFRED NYANGARESI

The death of Dr Stephen Mogusu brings to 40 frontline healthcare workers who have succumbed to Covid-19. While announcing Mogusu’s passing, KMPPDU said he had worked for five months without pay and health insurance. His colleagues described him as a very intelligent, hardworking, committed, cool, vibrant and diligent young doctor.

Mogusu’s case is but a tip of the iceberg on what young or junior doctors are facing. After an overwhelming internship where they work for a full year with minimal or no break, junior doctors embark on job hunting. In the public sector, the lucky ones get employed but under unpleasant terms of engagement.

Interacting with them reveals what they endure while on duty. Poor payment, poor working conditions, long hours, insufficient equipment, stagnant career advancement, which leads to emotional problems such as stress, lack of motivation, depression and on severe occasions early death.

This goes not just for doctors but all other cadres in the sector. This could be the reason we have witnessed perennial industrial action since health was devolved.

 

Although the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union has postponed its industrial action, it had highlighted seven key issues ranging from provision of standard and adequate PPE to creation  of a Health Commission.

Their issues require not only an immediate intervention but also a sincere discourse on the human resource function for a lasting solution.

Since the health sector is a complex function, HR issues must not only be consciously approached but also considerably dealt with. To achieve this and to avoid future crises, policymakers must involve all healthcare workers through their unions.  Remember, a motivated, united and harmonious workforce will achieve organisational objectives.

Consider creating a Constitutional Health Commission that takes into account all healthcare workers, just like the Teachers Service Commission serves both primary and secondary school teachers.

The ministries involved in averting the health crises should tell Kenyans whether this matter is beyond their reach. Better still, the President can intervene and form a task force to look into the issues raised by healthcare workers and give a report on their findings to address workers’ grievances.

The findings can then be tabled at a consultative meeting between the two levels of government for a decision to either form a Health Commission or transfer the function to the national government under articles 132 (4)a and 187 (a), (b) of the Constitution. This needs political will between the two levels of government.

This will not only help in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic but will also contribute in achieving universal healthcare.

Communications and PR professional. Kericho