'I will not resign to please cartels fighting me', says CS Nakhumicha

Susan Nakhumicha

Cabinet Secretary for Health Susan Nakhumicha briefs journalists at Afya House in Nairobi on March 18, 2024.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Health Cabinet Secretary Susan Nakhumicha has insisted that she will not be pushed to resign by some politicians and a section of the religious leaders.

The CS on Saturday sought to assure Kenyans that negotiations between the government and the striking medics are headed in the right direction to bring a solution to the stalemate in the health sector.

She said she will keep working for Kenyans because she has put the Ministry of Health on the right trajectory.

“We already have new laws in place, except for the health workers issue that has come up which I find as a break for us to stop and look at how we are moving and whether there are places that we need to make corrections.

"I am at work and working and I will continue working for Kenyans under the Kenya Kwanza government,” said Ms Nakhumicha.

She called the union leaders of medics who are on strike to help the government find a lasting solution to the industrial actions witnessed in the health ministry.

“Strikes over Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) have continued for the past years. The current strike is due to a failed CBA signed in 2017. However, this government is determined to bring sanity and put the last nail in the industrial actions in the health sector,” said Ms Nakhumicha.

Doctors are in their third week of industrial action that has left many patients who cannot afford going to private hospitals unattended to. Some of them are being sent away from hospitals across the country.

The striking professionals are demanding for comprehensive medical cover for doctors, posting of 1,200 medical interns and implementation of a raft of promises from the CBA signed in 2017, among other grievances.

Speaking in Butere on Saturday when she delivered ultrasound biopsy machines for prostate cancer donated by Astrazeneca to Kakamega County, Ms Nakhumicha said the government is willing to increase the doctors’ salary once the new CBA is in place.

According to the CS, the issue of medical insurance being paid according to the 2017 CBA has been settled.

She said the implementation of the CBA is a joint function for both the National and County Governments and that the former has already done what it is supposed to do and asked counties to play their part diligently.

“Most of the things they were raising, as national government, we are already meeting them. We have already initiated payment of post-graduate doctors, and once this is done, we will have paid all the fee arrears. We are also posting medical interns. Basic salary balances have exceeded what they were asking for and we are waiting for county governments to meet their end of the bargain,” she assured.

Kakamega Deputy Governor Ayub Savula said MPs from Western region have vowed to resist any attempts to impeach her.

“As leaders of political parties, we are whipping our MPs to ensure that if the motion to impeach the CS is presented in parliament, they must reject it. She is the only female minister representing Western in the government and we shall not accept her to be frustrated,” said Mr Savula.

He said a strike is a labour matter which should not be used to target Ms Nakhumicha.

Butere MP Tindi Mwale and Kakamega woman representative Elsie Muhanda said they will lobby for rejection of any impeachment motion against Ms Nakhumicha.

“So far there is no motion in parliament to impeach the CS. It was a mere funeral declaration and even if it is brought to the floor of the house, there is no way we shall allow fellow MPs to impeach the CS,” said Mr Mwale.

Ms Muhanda said since the national government was playing its part, the counties should also hasten the implementation of their roles.

"We shall not support a motion to impeach the CS when she is burning the midnight oil to ensure that her ministry is up and running," said Ms Muhanda.

Ms Nakhumicha blamed cartels she chased out of the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa) and the NHIF for fighting her through facilitating industrial actions and calling for her impeachment.

"NHIF had a lot of fraud that led to counties incurring huge debts but we have streamlined the mess. That is why some people are not sleeping pretty and have to fight back," she said.

As part of the government goodies to Butere, the CS promised to sign the construction of a new Kenya Medical Training College in the constituency.