Remote counties to receive top doctors in hiring plan
Specialists will be in rotation in for three to six months until enough medics have been trained to handle specialised cases in hardship areas
Remote counties such as Tana River, Lamu and Wajir will receive specialised health workers next year, some for the first time since Independence.
Health PS Nicholas Muraguri said the ministry will hire anaesthetists, theatre nurses and other specialists and send them there on a three-to-six month rotational basis.
“They will spend about three months every year in each remote county until we have trained enough [medics],” he said.
The staff will be sent to about 10 hardship counties that have failed to attract well-trained health workers, despite offering generous salaries.
The specialists will return to their jobs at the Kenyatta National Hospital and the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital after the county stint.
In the past, specialist workers usually quit their jobs when posted to re- mote locations.
Dr Muraguri said they will also engage private doctors to go regularly to those counties and treat rare conditions in patients who cannot be flown to Nairobi.
“You will find a specialist from the private sector going to a particular county on a particular day, like Friday, to handle breast cancer cases before leaving. These are highly specialised doctors from facilities like KNH and Aga Khan,” the PS told the Star.
“It does not make sense for a county like Mandera to pay an oncologist Sh500,000 to treat only two people every month.”
In countries with a proper transport network, specialised services are provided to patients through a few centres of excellence.
Lamu Health executive Kombo Mohamed said the county will support the project. He said Lamu loses every specialist they “painstakingly train”.
The county recently advertised for 40 nurses, but only 22 qualified people applied and got the jobs. “We pay salaries early. We have promoted all of them, but we still have a problem keeping them,” Dr Kombo said.
The two initiatives target hardship counties such as Turkana, Lamu, Wajir, Mandera, Tana River, Narok, West Pokot, Garissa and Kajiado.
Muraguri said the deployment of the specialists will boost the implementation of the Sh38 billion Managed Equipment Services project.
“We have already deployed 22 renal dialysis specialists to 10 counties and we shall continue doing this to ensure that Kenyans access critical care closer home. At the moment, 39 out of 47 counties have dialysis equipment and 21 are already dialysing. We remain committed to ensuring that this project is a success,” the PS said.
Eighty-seven hospitals have received theatre equipment out of the targeted 96, in addition to 96 hospitals receiving sterilisation equipment and surgical sets. Six out of 11 hospitals presently have ICU equipment and 97 out of 98 have imaging and X-ray equipment.
Lamu Deputy Governor Eric Mugo, Health PS Nicholas Muraguri and Governor Issa Timamy inspect medical equipment at the King Fahad Hospital in Lamu Island