National Assembly Committee on Health Chairperson Sabina Chege and members of the Committee address the media in a past event.

| File photo

D-Day for health workers’ pay rise, medical cover push

MPs will today vote on proposals to improve benefits for health workers including medical cover and higher allowances as well as compel public hospitals not to charge Covid-19 patients for protective gear.

Members of the National Assembly will this afternoon vote on recommendations by the Health committee for a State-funded Group Life Insurance Cover for all medical staff, comprehensive medical cover for employees in 19 counties without one and a risk allowance increment for all workers.

The lawmakers are also expected to direct government to release a consignment of protective gear to health workers and speed up purchase of Sh300 million re-usable masks for vulnerable persons.

This will be during a vote on adoption of a report by the committee on its Inquiry into the utilisation of the funds appropriated to the Ministry of Health in the financial year 2019/20 for the control and management of the COVID-19 pandemic with Focus on the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (KEMSA).

Among the amendments recommended by the committee led by Murang’a woman representative Sabina Chege is to compel the ministry to direct Kemsa to release Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) currently in their stores and distribute them to frontline medical workers and public hospitals.

Should the MPs approve the amendments, patients in public hospitals will not be charged for PPEs while being treated for Covid-19. “All public hospitals should not charge any Kenyan citizen admitted in their facilities due to COVID-19 the cost of PPE used while undergoing treatment,” the amendment proposes.

Return-to-work formula

Within seven days of adoption of the report, the lawmakers want Sh500 million released to the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) for the provision of Group Life Insurance Cover for all medical staff working in all counties and the national referral hospitals.

The MP want NHIF to ensure the beneficiaries enjoy the cover within two days of receiving the Sh500 million.

Within 14 days of the House adopting the report, the Council of Governors (CoG) will be required to ensure that all the 19 counties that have no medical cover for health workers sign-up for the comprehensive medical cover through the NHIF.

The committee also wants the National Treasury and (CoG) to establish a centralised pool of medical cover through the NHIF scheme for all county medical staff.

“The scheme should be in place at the beginning of the financial year 2021/22 and that the Ministry of Health and counties do make provisions for the same in their respective 2021/22 financial year budgets,” reads the report.

Within two weeks of the report’s adoption, the Ministry of Health and Governing Councils of University of Nairobi, Kenyatta University, Moi University and Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology will be required to pay all pending call allowances to doctors.

The MPs want the perks paid as per the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) and the return-to-work formula signed on March 14, 2017.

It is also good news for medical staff employed on contract as they are set to benefit from a comprehensive medical cover and all their salary arrears from August 2020 are to be paid within 14 days upon adoption of the report.

Another amendment will ask the Health ministry to engage the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) with a view of enhancing the risk allowance for medical staff.

The Health ministry will also have two weeks to procure Sh300 million re-usable masks for vulnerable persons and distribute them to the beneficiaries nationwide.  

Earlier this month, Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe told Parliament the procurement of the free masks for the vulnerable would begin afresh after all samples submitted by manufacturers failed to meet technical and quality tests.

Mr Kagwe said the bidders had been requested to resubmit samples for technical evaluation.

While debating the report last week, Suba North MP Millie Odhiambo described as unfortunate that Kemsa is holding PPEs while the situation is dire especially in counties.

“Let Kemsa and CS Health release the PPEs to save lives outside there, if someone wants to accuse them of breaching the law, we as parliament will be here to defend them,” Ms Odhiambo said.