On February 20, a group of 500 healthcare graduates who had been awarded jobs through the Public Service Commission (PSC) in 2021 penned an emotional letter imploring the current President William Ruto not to replace them with another list of politically correct Kenyans.
The frustrated health workers were seeking to inform the state that they are not ‘Azimio loyalists’ and therefore should not be denied their rightfully earned jobs based on that criterion. Ruto’s administration has been undoing his predecessor’s programmes including revocation of appointments.
It is unfathomable how we got to a point where jobless health workers must show allegiance to a ruling regime in order to secure employment. This trend, if not arrested, could rob job seekers the freedom to make political opinions due to fear of being denied opportunities.
According to the 2010 constitution, all Kenyans are equal and have a right to fair recruitment regardless of their political affiliation. Recruitment of health workers should only be based on merit.
Health workers must be careful not to encourage this mediocrity by bending over towards the state in exchange for favours. Instead, this despicable situation calls for unity among all cadres in the field to shun any efforts to skew recruitment processes in Kenya.
However, before we can attempt to solve this crisis, we should figure out the major problems facing young medical graduates in this country: unemployment and meagre salaries.
Out of the 5,352 medics who have been registered by the Kenya Medical Practitioners & Dentists Council (KMPDC) since 2019, only 1,000 have been absorbed into the health system. About 4,000 remain jobless as our public health facilities continue to face an acute shortage of human resource.
Kenya requires a long-term and sustainable plan to absorb health workers on a need basis for us to achieve Universal Healthcare. That can only be coordinated by a national body in charge of all healthcare workers. A properly constituted and mandated Health Service Commision (HSC) can suffice.
Currently, counties are recruiting health workers on punitive contracts that vary across the nation. Some workers do not receive their payment on time while in other cases they are paid in bits.
Handpicking of job seekers for employment is therefore not only unsustainable but also retrogressive and unhelpful in solving challenges being faced by health workers. The time is ripe for unions to unite and lobby for centralisation of the management of health human resource.