What you need to know:
- Social services such as health, particularly in areas where the district hospital is the only resort for many patients, should be prioritised.
This week, yet another category of hospital staff are on strike over remuneration. The staff at Kaberamaido District hospital are protesting over salary arrears going back as far as December last year.
It is one thing to receive meagre pay and quite another to be expected to show up to work daily for six months and get no compensation at the end of the month.
While no one would like to miss their monthly pay at all, six months is a long time to survive without pay.
This is in fact what the medical team in Kaberamaido is saying. They can no longer afford to cover their basic needs, put their children through school and keep a roof over their heads.
The reason given by some officials for the delay is also less than convincing.
The lag in paying wages has been attributed to the decision to enhance the salaries of scientists without making the necessary adjustments in the wage bill.
That explanation is also hard to understand because doctors and nurses are scientists. Why wouldn’t their salaries have fallen in the category for higher salaries?
In the meantime, as a resolution is sought, a district struggles as operations at its chief medical facility grind to a halt.
This speaks to poor planning but also lack of coordination between government agencies and levels of government.
At the very least, there is a breakdown in communication that has cost the health workers in Kaberamaido six months of pay.
The impact of taking actions such as increasing salaries for one group at the disadvantage of another should have been anticipated and solutions sought at the outset.
Social services such as health, particularly in areas where the district hospital is the only resort for many patients, should be prioritised.
This matter should have been brought to the table much earlier before six months had gone by. Now, with a strike already on, negotiations to resolve the impasse will take time and all this means more time for the health workers going without pay.
Government needs to pay closer attention to funding priorities in the health sector given the number of challenges encountered in the sector recently regarding pay, facilitation and deployment of health staff.
Remuneration for health workers is a big pain in service delivery and welfare of patients as well as health workers. At the moment, this is one of the most important items that the ministry and government need to address urgently.