Sunday, August 16, 2009




The Ministry of Medical Services does not take the concerns of its employees with any seriousness. The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Prof Ole Kiyapi has been in the news recently saying that health workers who have been working under various projects will not be absorbed by the Government. This is despite the assurance given by President Kibaki, the Right Honorable Prime Minister Raila Odinga and the Minister for Medical Services Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o that the Government will immediately absorb the workers into the mainstream civil service as soon as they complete their contracts. While the Minister has been advocating for the absorption of the workers, his permanent Secretary is known to be doing the exact opposite, blocking all efforts, or doing nothing to ensure that the process is completed.

Since the current PS took over from the immediate PS, Dr. Hezron Nyangito, there has been a lot of disquiet and low morale among the staff in the Ministry, especially the health workers working in the field as their issues are never addressed. Instead, the PS is known to be hosting cocktails with journalists to create unnecessary publicity while there is a lot of hue and cry among the health workforce. This has led to low morale among staff which has resulted in poor service delivery in public hospitals which are under the Ministry. The PS has also been fighting for the ownership of the Ministry, with his sole aim to take over the entire control of the two health ministries.

Dr. Nyangito had created good structures and initiated projects to improve the provision of health service delivery in the country in general and elevate staff morale in particular.

Professor ole Kiyapi, who was plugged out of the classroom two years ago, is said to be reversing the gains and trends made by the Ministry in the last few years under the leadership of Dr. Nyangito. This has resulted in the deterioration of health services delivery in hospitals and other higher level health institutions which fall under the Ministry of Medical Services. Prof Kiyapi is said to be destroying any gains previously advanced by the Ministry when Dr. Nyangito was the PS. In fact all mechanisms that had been developed to foster good service delivery have all crumbled under the leadership of this teacher, whose place should be back in lecture halls.

While some pundits may claim that the division of the Ministry is the cause of the problems experienced in the health sector, the real cause is the laxity, high handedness, selfishness pride, egoistic and a don’t-care attitude of the current PS for Medical Services who is known to be a stumbling block to any positive step the health sector is trying to take. The only gains that are seen by Kenyans are attributed to the hard work the sister Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation is doing.

Does not delegate

Things are even made worse as the PS does not delegate duties to his senior management staff. He is known to have issued circulars that he should approve anything; including annual leaves for junior officers it the Ministry. Problems are even more compounded by the fact that his deputy, the Director of Administration, a Mrs Khayumbi, is known to love meetings, that she hosts all day from Monday to Friday in her office or in the Ministry’s boardroom. These meetings are known to drag on and on but yield no results in the long run. No meaningful decisions are made as she is known to dictate everything and criticize everybody in the meetings and never gives anyone a chance to air views. Being from the diplomatic world, where meetings and gatherings for entertainment and public relations are the norm of the day, the DA is said to cherish holding meetings in the Ministry forgetting that the Ministry of Medical Services is not a public relations outfit but strategic Ministry and the lives of many poor Kenyans depend on its performance.

While the sister Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation is making a lot of progress, which seemingly is the only progress in the health sector seen by Kenyans, due to its effective and efficient permanent secretary Mr. Mark Bor, the Medical Ministry is said to be constantly involved in minor disputes and bickering like the PS following up small imprests for personal gains and to pay off journalists who may be out to publish anything negative about the Ministry. He (Prof Kiyapi) is said to have issued a myriad of circulars that are making staff extremely difficult for fear of contravening this or that circular or even for retribution for fear of emerging circulars they may not be aware of.

Staff Migration

Staff in the Ministry of Medical Services who are fed up with meaningless ultimatums are said to be seeking transfers to the sister Ministry of Public Health were they see a good working environment. There has been a great exodus of staff to the sister Ministry. Some staff have even opted to move on to greener pastures in the private sector to the detriment of the public health services due to unfavorable working conditions.

The PS, who is known to host meetings which are not work related with politicians, journalists and prominent personalities in his office, is also known to be buying off journalists from prominent media houses in order to cover his public appearances and to wad off negative publicity. This is the reason why journalists are always by his side giving only good stories about the Ministry, ignoring the worsening health care delivery situation in the Ministry. While his counterpart in the Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation is a silent performer, his staff are happy with the way decisions are arrived at, approved and implemented, which is unheard of in the Ministry of Medical Services. Prof Ole Kiyapi is known to be inviting journalists to his offices to cover a range of stories about the ministry and many of them are eager to do so as they are said to be rewarded handsomely by the PS using public funds.

Arrogant Secretaries

Senior officers in the Ministry are said to be a disgruntled lot as the PS is said to have installed fire spitting, abusive and aggressive secretaries at the office’s reception. The secretaries are said to handle senior directors of medical services like school kids when they want to see the PS. A common reply from the secretaries when the officers want to see the PS is “… the PS having a rest. Please see him tomorrow if at all he will be in a mood to see you!” The secretaries, who were brought from the Ministry of Environment where the PS worked after being plugged from the classroom, are said to be under instructions to block any officers from seeing the PS during working hours. This has made implementation of important policy decisions stall as the PS is rarely available to see his senior members of staff who are actually the policy makers. The Secretaries are said to have been personally recommended by the PS in order to cover up his myriad of underhand dealings he is doing at the Ministry.

Bad working relationship

The PS, who is said to be in a bad working relationship with his Minister because of his selfish interests is said to have become a great stumbling block to the implementation of policies and achievement of any meaningful developments in the Ministry.

Abusive HR Staff

Employees working under various contracts in various projects in the country, e.g. USAID, DANIDA, Clinton, etc who should have been absorbed into the mainstream civil service a long time ago are languishing out in the villages as the Public Service Commission of Kenya (PSCK) cannot process their absorptions without the go ahead from the Ministry of Medical Services. This is because the PS has never approved and forwarded the names of the health workers to the PSCK for absorption.

Contract workers who have had time to travel to Afya House to enquire about their fate have been met with a rude shock as the human resource personnel handling the matter are said to be very rude and abusive. A young woman working under one of the projects was arrogantly abused and chased by the officer said to be in charge of handling the project in an office in the First Floor (Room 126) in Afya House. The woman was consoled by female staff as she cried in the corridors.


While his counterpart in the Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation is said to be in very good working relationship with his Minister and to be always available to support the efforts made by his junior officers, professor Ole Kiyapi is said to be abusive to his junior officers and always threatening them with stern action.

He is even known to have issued a stern warning through a circular to all staff barring them from having any formal or informal meetings or communication with his Minister, as he put it that he is the only authorized person who can have any kind of communication, whether formal or informal with the Minister.

Low Staff Morale

With a lot of discontent and low staff morale, in the Ministry, there seems to be no meaningful gains in the ministry in the foreseeable future and Kenyans must ready themselves to suffer due to poor service delivery in public hospitals because of this one selfish permanent secretary, Professor James Ole Kiyapi, PS, Medical Services. Kenyans will soon realize the negative effects of these as there is already great unavailability of drugs and medicines in hospitals and low staff morale in most hospitals. A recent case is the death of a patient at Kisumu hospital after waiting in the queue for over 10 hours to be attended to. This was the norm during the KANU hey days when staff completely lost morale in the running of affairs in Afya House, which had been nicknamed Mafia House. Prof Kiyapi is slowly bringing the Mafia House back to the minds of Kenyans, yet Dr. Nyangito had completely eradicated and changed the face of the this seat of the health ministries.

Changed office

Dr. Nyangito had initiated many projects and was known to closely work with his Ministers and junior ministry staff to ensure the implementation of those projects which saw Kenyans develop and positive attitude towards public health care delivery in the country. But these gains are slowly waning as the current PS is out to destroy them. The PS, who changed the carpets in his office at a cost of KSh 2.5 million immediately he arrived through a company owned by his relative, is said to have hated anything to do with Dr. Nyangito.

If the trend continues this way, the entire health sector will just collapse.