Address the agony of unemployed doctors
A most glaring irony in the health sector is that there are many jobless doctors and yet a good number of private and public hospitals face a severe shortage of medical practitioners. It simply means that while patients suffer and many die, there are highly qualified people idling away who could have made a difference.
An incident in which a young doctor reportedly committed suicide for frustration from failure to get a job is the latest sad reminder of a terrible situation. After excelling in high school and joining one of the best careers, many young doctors go for years jobless. They will have spent six years in medical school but, unlike in the old days, are not assured of employment.
Official statistics show about 4,000 doctors are jobless. Only about 20 per cent of medical graduates have been employed since 2018. This is a huge waste as it costs at least Sh4 million to train a doctor.
The Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board says seven doctors have committed suicide in the past seven years after failing to get an opportunity to practise their dream profession. Of the 5,352 doctors registered in the past few years, only 1,000 have been hired with the rest joining the long list of unemployed university graduates.
UHC roll out
The government has committed itself to improve healthcare and has rolled out the universal health coverage (UHC), which is still in its pilot stage. Another notable initiative is the free maternal healthcare to enable more expectant mothers to gain access to qualified medical practitioners before, during and after childbirth. Both schemes require more health professionals at various levels to be available to serve.
Health is a devolved function but counties lack the capacity to effectively manage this portfolio. Secondly, the national government still controls the sector as it is in charge of policy and recruitment. That ought to be streamlined to absorb medics.
Whatever the challenges, the health professionals, who are trained at huge expense to the taxpayers, should be hired to provide quality services and recoup the cost.
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