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Absentee doctors hurting healthcare

More than 20 per cent of healthcare providers in Kenya are chronic absentees who undermine the country’s healthcare service quality, says Randolph Augustin of USAid Kenya. Speaking during the launch of the Health Sector Training Policy and Human Resources for Health procedure manual, Augustin said that health workers ought to be held accountable.

Kisii Governor James Ongwae, on the other hand, said to compensate for absent colleagues, health workers are burdened with additional work and sometimes forced to perform tasks for which they are unqualified. “As more workers are absent without consequences, those who tended to respect their work hours become increasingly demotivated and may also adopt these negative practices,” he said.

He added that most healthcare workers had institutional problems with the devolved health care systems especially in recruitment of doctors. Ongwae emphasised the need for the Health Ministry to be serious in ensuring top-notch service delivery. “The ministry needs to be serious because this is not just about guarding your area of competencies but rather improve on resources disbursement to ensure improved service delivery,” he said.

He added that some counties are faced with strikes like the recent one in Nairobi because of the ministry delays in disbursement of funds. “Some counties do not receive their remittances in two to three months which has a ripple effect in the entire healthcare system,” he said.

Director of Medical Services, Jackson Kioko who was present steered clear of issues raised and highlighted the gains made by the ministry. “The government is fulfilling its promise by increasing funding to support innovative projects such as the Sh 38 billion channelled to ensuring every county has digital diagnostic equipment,” he said.

A study in Machakos county done recently showed that an estimated absenteeism rate averaging 25 per cent cost each health facility Sh510,0000 per month. Kioko, however, said that investing in health community workers is the way to go because they will drastically improve the workload.

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