I left Jubilee because of William Ruto - Governor Ruto

When the crippling doctors’ strike ended, Bomet Governor ISAAC RUTO explained to JECKONIA OTIENO why he sought treatment in South Africa, his problem with Jubilee and the reason the doctors’ union has no place in counties

Doctors insist that county governments lack the capacity to manage healthcare...

Bomet, as a county, takes healthcare seriously. For instance, we looked at the issues that doctors raised and began by placing them in appropriate job groups, considering that they take long in school and work long hours because they are always on call.

Personally, when I fall ill, I call them.

Why then did you fly to South Africa for treatment?

Contrary to what was being said, I was first treated in Bomet. The immediate care was in Bomet and the referral to Nairobi Hospital was by Bomet doctors. Nairobi Hospital doctors recommended I seek further medical treatment in South Africa.

If it was within my power, I would have been treated here, but I was told the kind of treatment I needed was only available in India, US, UK and South Africa, which was the nearest.

Then why can’t Kenya’s healthcare reach that level where people do not have to fly out for treatment?

It is going to take long to develop our health sector, starting with training programmes. To reach the level of other countries, we have to develop specialised training in every discipline.

This has to be domesticated. All we need is to get our doctors to specialise in a structured manner. For instance, start with training professionals in cancer, not just oncologists, but also, specialists to use the equipment then go to orthopaedics and so on, including support staff.

Should doctors, in your view, go on strike?

We must strive to avoid confrontation between staff and employers at all cost. Actually, there should be none in the sector because of how critical it is to the people. Situations that may arise should be dealt with in advance.

As a manager and employer, what is your personal view of the doctors?

Doctors are not a troublesome group of workers. They spend a lot of their time focusing on medicine. That is why they were devolved even without them realising it.

They were not aware, only to find themselves under the counties, something that might have shocked them. There are some we employed as a county but still think they work for the national government. They are fairly apolitical.

Why then did both governors and the doctors’ union assume hardline positions?

Doctors are not very complicated to discuss issues with. What I do not support is this massive workers’ union interfering in county affairs. You cannot force me to go and negotiate with people I have no idea about.

I want to negotiate with doctors within my county because each county has unique challenges. We can have county unions with one umbrella union at the national level. We can help build their capacity like how to negotiate in a more structured way.

Does that mean you do not recognise the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU)?

I have no idea what that union is all about. I am not a party to that return to wok formula or recognition agreement. First of all, I am not a party to the court case. I was not a party to the negotiations.

The Council of Governors (CoG) is not a government. I am simply not a party to any of the issues after Naivasha.

So you will not sign the documents that were negotiated?

I am ready to adapt any negotiated salaries. I am waiting for the standards to be recommended by the CoG in terms of salary structure and the collective bargaining agreement (CBA); these I have no problem with because they are negotiated at the national level.

I am not in agreement, however, with the recognition of KMPDU at the local level, but it can be recognised as an umbrella body. Every county must sort out issues affecting their own doctors.

Is it true you attacked KMPDU officials?

I never attacked any official and we never even met. I just heard that they had been beaten. I thought they were doctors, so I was wondering whether there was a civil war. I just saw people exchanging blows and they took off in a hurry.

You never liked the Managed Equipment Service (MES) initiative from the word go

Yes. That thing is meaningless. First of all, it is short-term. It was for seven years and we have done four years, yet a lot of the hospitals are yet to receive the equipment. Just about 25 per cent of the equipment have been unpacked, while most remain in cartons.

I have a hospital whose construction is yet to be completed but the equipment is available. If I had been asked, I would have shown them a complete facility. But they chose a facility that is far from complete. Even if it is complete, where is the technical staff? Who will handle ICU?

The further we disburse specialised healthcare, the less we have proper care. If we are given money, we would develop one hospital like Longisa and make it state-of-the-art so that we do not have to come to Nairobi for treatment. Right now, the equipment is just being distributed without any proper plans.

Why did you take the risk of decamping from Jubilee to join Nasa?

We have said bye to those who are insulting others. You know, not both could be bad. But if you buy one, you could get a bad one for free.

And then the free bad one comes with a package of other bad ones. Last time we voted, we got a package in which one was free and it’s the free one who has given us all the trouble. He got in because he was part of a package.