Samburu health workers, civil society protest against nomination of CEC member for health.

A section of Samburu county health workers and the civil society have protested against the nomination of Mary Kanyaman Ekai as the County Executive Committee Member for Health, Medical Services, Public Health and Sanitation.

The medical staff that mainly consisted of nurses and clinical officers marched from Maralal town to the county assembly buildings where Ekai was to be vetted saying she was not fit to head the health department.

They presented a petition against Ekai’s nomination to the County Assembly vetting committee.

Led by a group of representatives, the health workers were allowed into the county chambers to air their grievances.

Erastus Sinoti, a public health officer told members of the county assembly that Ekai used to harass and divide health workers along tribal lines when she served as a CEC at the department.

Ekai headed the health docket for 15 months before she was transferred to the Education Ministry following recommendations from the County Assembly after a motion to sack her over excessive allowances payment late last year was presented before the House.

She was harassing workers and overlooking other departmental heads. She was serving as the accountant, the nurse, the mortuary attendant. She was everything when she was in that office, Sinoti told the Assembly.

She added that health workers suffered intimidation and threats as Ekai used to confront heads of departments in front of their juniors and sometimes by the roadside.

John Leshipayo, an accountant at Maralal Referral Hospital, lamented before the house committee about how Ekai had made life unbearable in the department.

Leshipayo urged the vetting committee not to let Ekai sail through the vetting process as she would get back to the ministry with vengeance.

She turned the health sector into a hell. She once forced me to pay for tea in a Nakuru hotel. I was once forced to fuel a government vehicle in Nyahururu as we came from training. We cannot imagine the vengeance she will come back with, Leshipayo cried.

Simon Lemurge, a senior clinical officer accused Ekai of breaking the health system protocol arguing that getting her back to the same ministry would be bringing back a problem.

We fear that if she comes back, the whole system of the health sector will be affected again, he said.

Nurse Halima Leturwai told the house committee that she had witnessed the health sector crumble when Ekai was the CEC member for the ministry.

Leturwai narrated how the hospital run out of drugs and sometimes operated on sub standard drugs.

We were once using gloves used in flower farms. Our lives were at risk and our complaints fell on deaf ears, she said.

Leturwai mentioned that while heading the health docket, the nominee had her favourite nurses whom she would give special treatment such as expediting their allowances.

Representing the civil society, area chairman David Lengala noted that the former County Assembly had investigated Ekai over abuse of office and recommended that she was not fit to hold a public office.

However, in a strange twist of events, three health workers brought a petition in support of the embattled nominee.

Led by Dr. Rajab Saddam, the three said Ekai had overseen the improvement of the hospitals infrastructures

We support the nomination of Ekai. She brought positive change in the Ministry of Health and she executed her duties in accordance to the law, Dr. Rajab told the house committee.

The three health workers noted that the petition against the nominee represented individual interests adding that Ekai represents the minority.

During the vetting process, Ekai said that hers is a fight against change and status quo in the health sector.

She said that during her 15 month tenure as Health CEC, she set up a maternity theatre in Baragoi and Suguta Marmar hospitals.

She added that the insecurities among the health workers was as a result of the radical changes she had to put in place.

There was rot in the health sector which was inherited from the national government before devolution and it was my job to streamline things, she said.

However, the vetting process is still going on with two members yet to be vetted, after which voting would determine the way forward.

Source: Kenya News Agency