MPs say Health ministry misled President on bill

Hillary Mageka @hillarymageka

The Health ministry was yesterday accused of misadvising President Uhuru Kenyatta to reject a Health Bill passed by Parliament.

National Assembly’s Health Committee claimed senior ministry officials clandestinely hoodwinked the Head of State on the bill.

MPs Dan Mule (Matungulu), James Nyikal (Seme), Martin Owino (Ndhiwa) and Muriuki Njagagua (Mbeere North) blamed Health Cabinet secretary Sicily Kariuki and her Principal secretary Peter Tum for allegedly duping Uhuru to dismiss an “important bill” on very flimsy grounds.

Uhuru last week declined to assent to Health Laws Amendment Bill, 2018, and returned it to the National Assembly.

The bill proposes various amendments to 13 Statutes relating to the Health sector. Legislators now want an explanation from the ministry, terming its actions as betrayal and insincerity of the highest level.

Nyikal claimed ministry officials were misusing their position for self gain.  The lawmakers have threatened to impose sanctions on the ministry, including blocking their 2019/20 budgetary allocations.

“I feel this is the highest level of betrayal. It is time we reviewed our relationship with Afya House,” said Njagagua.

The MPs have also accused the ministry of putting Parliament on a collision course with nurses through legislative proposals, which they termed unrealistic.

“The Health ministry is not taking us very seriously. Maybe, they are treating us with contempt. Some proposals will only serve to ignite another nurse’s strike,” said Njagagua.

Among the proposals in the President’s Memorandum is the removal of nurses’ commodities from  the nursing council to the Pharmacy and Poisons board.

Lawmakers held that it was practically impossible for the board to handle the nursing issues as it had “failed miserably in regulating pharmaceutical products”.

“We cannot give more functions to a board that is already doing badly in its role. They still allow substandard products to get into our markets, which is highly detrimental to our people,” Tongaren MP Eseli Simiyu said.

Health Chief Administrative Secretary Rashid Amin, who represented Sicily, defended the ministry and promised to seek audience with the President to have the memorandum withdrawn.

Amin said the ministry did not dupe the Head of State to discard the health bill as he did so based  on own advice from various entities.

“It’s not true that we treat this committee with contempt. We recognise your role and as such we have only experienced is a variance of opinion,” he said.

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