MEDICAL SERVICES: Senator says there appear to be wrangles within Lenku’s administration
House seeks statement from the County Executive on rationale and criteria used to redeploy health workers
Trouble is brewing between the County Assembly and Kajiado Governor Joseph ole Lenku’s administration over the transfer of health personnel.
Rombo MCA Jackson Angaine moved a motion in the House on November 29 to demand a statement on the matter from the County Executive Committee Member in charge of Medical Services and Public Health Alex Kilowua. The request was approved the same day by County Assembly Speaker Justus Ngussur.
The previous day, Senator Samuel Seki had issued a statement through social media expressing concern over the transfers and questioning whether there was a political motive involved.
The saga over health staff transfers now provides the latest battleground in the evolving supremacy contest between Lenku and the County Assembly, with the former’s Communication Director Bill Muiruri saying the whole furore was much ado about nothing.
Various MCAs have come out in favour of the motion by Angaine. They include Majority Leader John Loisa (Dalalekutuk), Isaac Kiresian (Magadi), Abraham Osoi (Matapato North), Ann Ntatai (nominated), Bernard Moloma (Kenyawa/Poka), Stephen Ngatho (Olkeri) and Grace Parantai (nominated)
Public Service Board was side-lined
Kiresian, who is also the Minority Leader of the House, said the transfer of staff without involving the county human resources personnel needed to be looked at afresh.
“The doctors of this county need to be heard. This is a sensitive department and a sensitive issue.”
In his request, Angaine has sought to know the rationale for the transfers; the criterion used; details of the affected workers, including their work stations and designations; and whether transfer allowances were paid to the relevant staff.
The MCA further sought to know the modalities put in place to come up with a framework to guide such transfers, as well as measures to ensure that service delivery would not be affected by the transfers.
“The role of the County Public Service Board is to facilitate the development of coherent, integrated human resource planning and budgeting for personnel emoluments in the County,” Angaine said in a reference to the apparent side-lining of the Board in effecting the transfers.
“The [Board] plays a crucial role in advising the county government on human resource management,” his statement went on, and noted with concern that transfer letters were issued by the County Department on Health Services.
Ms Parantai said it was wrong for the Health minister to perform a role that was not his. “This seems to be some kind of dictatorship in that department. Our people cannot be victims of personal grudges. The CECM does not have a medical background and that is why he is messing up.”
Muiruri disputes the claims that the Board was side-lined, saying the transfers were done in good faith to destroy cartels and improve service delivery. “The County Public Service Board is not involved in intra-departmental transfers. The work of the Board is to recruit and deploy staff to the department. The team leader is the one mandated to move staff within the department. Outside the department, it is done by the County Secretary.”
Seki’s statement had in addition said most of those affected were transferred on demotion. “These transfers have the potential to destroy the morale of our health workers and thereby affect service delivery to county residents.”
According to the senator, the transfers were done in three phases. “On October 13, 2022, some 50 staff members were transferred to different health facilities across the county. Days later on October 23, a total of 13 members of the County Health Management Team (CHMT) were transferred. Again on November 23, 40 staff were transferred, including 30 senior medical doctors.”
At the same time, Seki observed that there appeared to be wrangles within Lenku’s administration, with the Chief Officer in charge of Health Services Jonathan Kulei writing a letter on November 25 to revoke all the transfers. It is said that the transfers were ordered by the County Executive Committee Member in charge of Medical Services and Public Health without the involvement of the Chief Officer.
“As the Senator of this county and in the performance of my oversight responsibilities, it is my interest to see that the transfer of health personnel is done professionally and handled competently. While I have nothing against Governor Joseph ole Lenku, it is disconcerting when staff transfers appear to be done whimsically or due to political reasons in order to punish opponents rather than on a professional needs assessment basis,” Seki’s statement said.
However, the figures provided by Seki were disputed by Muiruri, who said only 43 officers had been transferred and another 23 merely “recommended for transfer”. The Chief Officer of Health Services was only supposed to implement what the County Executive Committee Member in charge of health had directed, he added.
Moreover, according to Muiruri, there were spouses of politicians affected by the transfers, which exacerbated the resistance to the move. “Lenku is interested in service delivery without considering whose spouse was being transferred. Moreover, nobody has been demoted. They consider a transfer from the county referral hospital a demotion because of the cartels created.”
The transfers have divided the county residents down the middle, with some saying the move was justified in order to enable all residents — including those in far-flung areas — to gain access to trained health personnel. Others have opposed the transfers and supported moves by the County Assembly and the senator to castigate the county government.