The 8th of August 2017 was a historic day for Kenya. Kenyans participated in their second ever general election since the promulgation of the 2010 constitution on August 8 to elect their political leaders from the Head of State to the Members of County Assembly.
Bungoma is one of the counties in Western Kenya which has seen changes in political leadership as a result of the election. The county has a new Governor, His Excellency Hon. Wycliffe Wafula Wangamati, who was sworn in on 21st of August 2017. At the helm of Bungoma leadership, H.E. Hon. Wangamati will be charged with the overall responsibility of efficient management of all devolved state function including the Ministry of Health (MOH) for the next 5 years.
Partners and programmes supporting the ministry of health in RMNCAH, including E4A-Mama Ye, have expressed optimism that the new county leadership will provide solutions for challenges that have faced the Ministry of Health since the advent of devolution.
In his first ever meeting after inauguration, the governor chose to meet Ministry of Health (MOH) partners in a bid to understand their challenges.
During the meeting limited funding for MOH was addressed, outlining years of impact upon the effective running of the ministry. Nearly 75% of budget allocation is spent on remuneration of staff leaving, the frequent changes in staff affecting service delivery. Only 25% of budget is allocated to cater for development, including the purchase of commodities, hiring of new staff and improvement of health infrastructure. This has been a concern for all health stakeholders including E4A-Mama Ye Kenya who are calling for the political leadership to increase resource allocation.
“I am a son of a nurse and so I understand the challenges of the health sector. I grew up accessing health services from public health facilities and so I identify myself with the situation. I am passionate and committed to providing solutions for these challenges to be best of my abilities" the governor told partners as he rose to make his remarks.
In recognition of the challenges attributed to limited funds faced by the health sector, the Governor promised to allocate more funds towards the health department for improvement of health systems. If this is realised, Bungoma will be better placed to improve the health infrastructure, equip health facilities with adequate commodities, strengthen health systems, improve on provider-patient ratio and further motivate health providers with better pay to alleviate health workers strikes that have crippled the health sector in the county.
“One of the immediate tasks on my to do list is to enhance staff motivation through promotion” said Governor Wangamati while responding to partners’ issues.
The Governor confirmed his intentions to involve health partners in the planning and budgeting process. A strong indication of his good will in promoting accountability by ensuring there is a participatory budgeting process tha reflects the needs of the ministry of health and other sectors.
E4A-Mama Ye Kenya will be happy to support the MOH and other Civil Society Organisations in realising this core component of the budget making process. He promised to align MOH programs and budgets to partner programmes within the County.
Governor Wangamati acknowledges the fact that frequent staff movement affects effective implementation of partner programs. He said there is need for retention of staff who have been capacity built to perform different function in programs implemented by partners. He promised to minimise staff transfers for optimal realization of results for the mutual benefit of both partners and MOH.
To further promote accountability, Governor Wangamati pledged his support in ensuring that health stakeholder meetings are held on bi-monthly basis for sharing of progress and challenges. This is a welcome move by E4A-Mama Ye Kenya, as more RMNCAH evidence materials can now be shared with health stakeholders in these accountability fora.
A critical review of Governor Wangamati’s manifesto reveals that the Governor’s pledges are solidly anchored on it. In his manifesto, he promises to among other things, organise health services around people's needs and expectations through service delivery reforms and increase stakeholder participation in the management and provision of health.
Additionally, E4A-Mama Ye Kenya welcomes the Governors commitment in RMNCAH, as displayed in this statement on page 8 of his manifesto; “I will pay particular attention to maternal and infant health. Under my administration, no mother should ever die while bringing forth the miracle of life due to human negligence or shortage of drugs or even equipment”.
Let’s make sure he fulfils his commitment.