Unions resist Prof Richard Muga’s ouster amid health crisis

Prof Richard Otieno Muga

Impeached Homa Bay County Health Executive Prof Richard Muga at a past event.

Photo credit: George Odiwuor | Nation Media Group

Just days after MCAs impeached Health Executive Richard Muga on grounds of incompetence, union officials have accused the assembly of meddling in the management of local hospitals.

This comes on the backdrop of a deepening health crisis that has seen conditions at the Homa Bay County Teaching and Referral Hospital deteriorate, triggering complaints from residents.

While the executive is yet to act on the assembly’s advice to dismiss several senior health officials, medical workers’ unions said the impeachment of Prof Muga was unacceptable.

Officials from the Kenya National Union of Nurses (Knun), Kenya Union of Laboratories Technicians (Kult) and Kenya Union of Clinical Officers (Kuco) were all united in criticising the move yesterday.

“Ward reps want to micromanage healthcare by dictating who should lead the different health facilities in the county,” KUCO branch chairman Stephen Omondi said.

Two weeks ago, a report on the status of the county’s hospitals tabled in the assembly revealed deteriorating services at the facilities. Patients were using dirty linens while others were not getting enough food.

Medical facilities

Several of the medical facilities lacked adequate drugs and patients frequently complained of being overcharged.

In their recommendations, MCAs asked the county executive to fire Dr Peter Ogolla as chief executive officer and Dr Lillian Kochola appointed in his place. But medics said they would not accept Dr Kochola as CEO, accusing her of contributing to the mess at the hospital when she was posted to head the facility six years ago.

Healthcare services

Knun Executive Secretary Omondi Nyoje accused MCAs of failing to investigate the issues facing the health sector.

“We have seen a transformation in the provision of healthcare services at the hospital ever since the executive made changes to the leadership of the facility a month ago. Why do MCAs want to take us back to the mess we were in? We do not want Dr Kochola back,” said Mr Nyoje.

Residents are still waiting to see if Governor Cyprian Awiti will terminate Prof Muga’s contract.

The contract terms for Health Chief Officer Jerald Akeche are also being questioned as he is said to have been holding his position in an acting capacity for more than three years. Mr Nyonje said this is not the right time to replace top health officials.

He said the process of recruiting new officers will jeopardise the fight against Covid-19 as the county will lack officers to manage the health sector.

“MCAs should work to ensure the welfare of health workers is protected. They should not bring their small issues with personalities in the management of health,” the unionist said.

KUCO branch secretary Philip Mbom urged the Senate Health Committee to look into the management of health services in the county. He accused MCAs of derailing negotiations between the unions, the county executive and Senate Health Committee.

“We had scheduled a meeting with senators on how our grievances can be addressed. But some MCAs interfered with the process,” said Mr Mbom.

Assembly Health Committee Chairperson Joan Ogada did not respond to calls when contacted to comment on the issues.


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