Nurses union opposes formation of health taskforce

Collins Ajwang’

National Nurses Association of Kenya President Collins Ajwang’.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Mr Ajwang the establishment of another taskforce will create role conflict.
  • Taskforce was established to formulate healthcare workforce policies.

Nurses union has dismissed a health taskforce appointed last week by President William Ruto to address human resources for health, arguing that the team is a duplication of bodies that already exist.

The National Nurses Association of Kenya (NNAK) said the taskforce’s mandate is similar to that of Kenya Health Human Resource Advisory Council (KHHRAC).

NNAK president Collins Ajwang said the team duplicates and usurps the mandate of the KHHRAC, a statutory body established under the Health Act.

He said the government should instead operationalise the Council, which despite being adopted by the government in October last year, in the famous Kericho declaration, has not been implemented to date.

Mr Ajwang that the establishment of another taskforce will create role conflict and further delay the implementation of previous recommendations already in place.

Healthcare workforce

He added that there are existing reports and policy documents on health personnel distribution per cadre, facility, county and nationality and the attendant gaps.

“The challenges Nurses and other health workers are facing through training, recruitment, employment and retention are known and only requires implementation of the already agreed solutions or recommendations. The issue at hand is implementation, not another taskforce,” said Mr Ajwang.

The NNAK boss called for the full implementation of the Kericho declaration as well as the establishment of a health service commission to bring a harmonious working relationship in the health sector.

“Nurses cannot do more with less. Nurses are irreplaceable. Nurses should therefore be involved at all stages in health care conversations with a simple majority to ensure realistic, effective, efficient, and functional health systems,” said Mr Ajwang.

President Ruto established the taskforce on July 5 to formulate comprehensive strategies and policies to enhance the healthcare workforce, among other issues.

Healthcare professionals

Dr Ruto named Prof Khama Rogo the chairperson and lawyer Judith Guserwa as the vice chairperson of the task force.

The taskforce is expected to identify the legal, policy, administrative and operational constraints impeding performance of the health sector in Kenya with regards to human resources for health and recommend legal, policy, administrative, institutional and operational human resources for health reforms in Kenya.

The team is also expected to review performance of human resources and recommend improvements, as well as advise and recommend legal, policy, administrative, institutional, and operational framework for the management of human resources for health without undermining devolution.

But the KHHRAC can do the work as its functions includes to review policy and establish uniform norms and standards for posting of interns to national and county government facilities, inter county transfer of healthcare professionals and transfer of healthcare professionals from one level of government to another.

The council is also mandated to check on the welfare and the scheme of service for health professionals, management and rotation of specialists and the maintenance of a master register for all health practitioners in the counties, among other duties.