What you need to know:
- Ms Wanga committed to address issues that have bedeviled the health department in Homa Bay County.
- It means that anyone can challenge her in court if she does not deliver her promises in the health docket.
Homa Bay Woman Representative Gladys Wanga has signed a health charter with a promise to address the county's health challenges, if elected governor.
By signing the document, Ms Wanga committed to address issues that have bedeviled the health department that has led to increased rate of disease infections and deaths in the county.
It also means that anyone can challenge her in court if she does not deliver her promises in the health docket since the document was signed in the presence of High Court Advocate Samuel Nyaoke and health workers union representatives.
Ms Wanga is vying for the governor seat in Homa Bay County on an ODM ticket. Her new style of campaign where she signs binding agreements with professionals is meant to build trust in her.
She presented her campaign pledges at the Health Summit, a gathering of health workers from public health facilities in all eight sub-counties in Homa Bay town on Friday where she committed that her government will ensure the promises are delivered.
Her running mate, former Kasipul MP Oyugi Magwanga, medical workers union representatives and Mr Nyauke also appended their signatures on the document.
Homa Bay has one of the worst health indicators with medics complaining about understaffing, lack of protective gears, shortage of drugs and other pharmaceuticals among other problems. The county leads in HIV, Malaria and TB infections.
Other challenges such as maternal and infant mortality, low immunisation rate, open defecation and malnutrition among children are also on the rise in the county.
This is despite the county government setting aside at least Sh 2 billion annually for health management with the support of several NGOs.
According to Dr Kevin Osuru, the chairman of Kenya Medical Practitioners Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) in Nyanza, corruption within the health department is the main factor that has greatly contributed to these health problems.
He argued that the challenges are not being fully addressed by the current government because money is diverted to pockets of individuals who benefit as residents suffer.
"We are asking for an audit of the health department because we believe there are people who masquerade as doctors and nurses and get paid for it, yet they are not trained healthcare workers," Dr Osuri said.
He also cited the perennial delays in payment of salaries as another issue that should be urgently addressed. In the past, delays in payment of salaries has resulted in industrial action and closure of public health facilities in the county.
Dr Osuri said perennial strikes are having a negative impact on the lives of residents who have to spend a lot of money seeking treatment in private hospitals.
"It is surprising that Homa Bay, despite getting the same amount of money from the National Treasury as other counties, still has to wait for workers to go on strike before the governor starts running up and down looking for money to pay workers," he said.
Meanwhile, Ms Wanga has pledged to offer permanent employment to health workers who are currently working on contract. She also promised that her government would pay salaries and remit statutory deductions promptly.
She said she will also improve stipend for community health volunteers, equip health facilities with drugs and non-pharmaceuticals, honour collective bargaining agreements and schemes of service. Her target is to start implementing the pledges within the first 100 days after being elected.
"There will be great transformation in the health sector within the first six months if I get into office. I am committed to making the changes, that is why we're having a covenant with you," Ms Wanga told the medics who attended the event.
She also promised to fight corruption in the county public service board which has impeded employment of health workers on merit.
Mr Magwanga said the health sector will be given first priority if they are elected in the August 9 General Election.
"The county cannot achieve its desired economic growth if its people are not healthy. A healthy county is a wealthy county," he said.