Governors hesitant to support medics' training - Beaking Kenya News

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Monday, 9 September 2019

Governors hesitant to support medics' training

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Kenya faces the risk of an even more severe shortage of specialist doctors.
In a letter to Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki, Council of Governors Chief Executive Officer Jacqueline Mogeni said many county governments do not want to release doctors for postgraduate training despite a worrying shortage of specialists.
Ms Mogeni urged the Ministry to take up the salaries of the 1,153 doctors, which translates to Sh280 million a month, and enable devolved governments hire medical officers as others undertake postgraduate training.
"In view of the foregoing, the council wishes to share collated data of the total pay cheques to doctors on training that translates to Sh280 million monthly and Sh3.9 billion annually, to guide the discussions of taking up these salaries by the government,” the letter said.
“We request the Ministry to conclude deliberations and a way forward on this matter.”
Data by the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPPDU) support the governors.
The union says county governments are not willing to release doctors who want to advance their studies.
According to KMPPDU, only 23 doctors out of the 165 who applied for postgraduate studies in the September intake were allowed to do so by their employers.
The governments include Baringo, Garissa, Mombasa, Nairobi, Kilifi and Laikipia. Kenya is experiencing a workforce shortage, particularly in specialised healthcare.
According to the 2019 Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Council report, there are 7,974 doctors and 838 dentists in active practice in the country today.
Kenya’s doctor to population ratio is nowhere near the 1:1,000 recommended by the World Health Organisation, even with the additional 1,291 foreign health workers.
With just 2,560 specialists, the number is far less than what the country requires.
Kenya has 161 anaesthetists who are required to be present during all surgeries in the country.
The number of obstetric and gynaecologist specialists is 430. It is by far the largest number of medical specialists in the country.
There are 349 specialist surgeons and only nine are in the plastic and reconstructive field.
It means Kenya needs more specialists or that the country is not training them.
KMPDU Deputy Secretary-General Chibanzi Mwachonda says without specialists‚ patients cannot get the attention they need.
As such‚ fewer registrars (doctors training in a particular area of medicine) would mean less services and ultimately‚ fewer trained specialists.
“The Ministry needs to take up the training and salaries as outlined in the fourth schedule of the Constitution. It can then decide to post these doctors anywhere in the country,” Dr Mwachonda said.
He added that for Kenya to have the right number of specialists to serve the population, the Ministry must do a national training needs assessment with focus on the deficits.
The report can then be used to develop a five-year strategic framework.
In response to the letter from governors, Ms Kariuki said taking up the salaries of doctors would mean negotiating for them to be ceded to the government.
“This is a policy decision that will have to be negotiated. If we take them up on this, it would mean they become our responsibility and this would lead to the issue of having a Health Service Commission,” she said.

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