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At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, Dr Patrick Amoth became prominent in households as Kenyans tuned in to their television sets for Covid-19 updates.

What many don’t know is that the medic has continued to serve in an acting capacity for the past five years, as the position of Director General of Health is advertised and re-advertised.

The name Patrick Amoth, the acting Director General of Health, rings a bell to many.
At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, He became prominent in households as Kenyans tuned in to their television sets for Covid-19 updates.

Dr Amoth often appeared alongside former Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe, who regularly briefed the nation on the epidemic.
At times, Dr Amoth himself provided the updates.
PSC is the body responsible for appointing and promoting public officers and determining their terms and conditions of service.
At the moment, the PSC has re-advertised the position after cancelling the initial advertisement and asked those who had applied to do so in a notice dated March 19th.
The vacancy was advertised on February 27, 2024, calling on interested persons to apply through the Commission website.

“The details of the post and mode of application can be accessed on the Commission’s website. Those who had applied are advised to re-apply,” reads the statement by PSC.

It further reads, “Interested and qualified persons are required to make their applications online through the Commission website so as to reach the Commission on or before April 2024 by 5.00 pm. (East African time).”

It has now emerged that the re-advertisement has come as a result of a recall demand by health unions, who argued that the previous advert breached an earlier court decision that nullified some sections of the Public Health Act.
According to the Kenya Union of Clinical Officers chairperson (KUCO), the vacancies advertised for the position of the DG have discriminated against other cadres in the requirements outlined.

The chairperson, Peterson Wachira, argues that the earlier advertisement violated the law as it means that anybody who was going to advertise the positions that were provided by the Health Act cannot use the requirements that have been declared as discriminatory.
He demanded recall of the advert by PSC to rectify and ensure it complies with the judgment.

There are also concerns that the position of DG should not be reserved for a medic.

Last October, Health Cabinet Secretary (CS) Susan Nakhumicha was on the hot seat, taken to task by MPs, demanding to know why Dr Amoth has stayed in an acting capacity for too long, beyond the labour stipulated period.
The CS informed the lawmakers that the position was to be filled substantially, however, some contestation arose from other cadres of staff questioning why the officer holder must be a medical doctor.

Then she passed the back to PSC, saying the commission was yet to resolve the matter and she was waiting for their feedback, adding that she was working on his issue.

However, the advertisement now raises eyebrows on what could be in the offing, even though she had disclosed that the ministry was making amendments to the law to address functionality and specific professions to hold such positions.

Bumula MP Jack Wamboka, who chairs the National Assembly’s Public Investment Committee on Governance and Education, had in October grilled the CS to explain why the officer has served in an acting capacity after the lapse of six months in office.

“Madam Minister, how long has Dr Amoth been acting? Honestly, Waziri, this is a working government you want to say you are being fair to Kenyans and to him as a person?” Wamboka inquired then.

In her defence, Nakhumicha explained that despite inheriting the matter, she had made efforts to address it, arguing she had written letters to PSC over it.

Dr Amoth, also the Vice President of the Executive Board of the World Health Organisation (WHO), representing Africa, is by no means a man of many firsts.

A consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, Dr Amoth previously headed the Directorate of Public Health at the Ministry, where he spearheaded strategy development for the effective delivery of health services in all 47 counties in Kenya and was centrally involved in the inception and alignment of Universal Health Coverage for the country.

He formerly headed the Department of Health Sector Coordination and Intergovernmental Affairs, an assignment preceded by his successful stint as a Chief Medical Specialist and Senior Deputy Director of Medical Services at Mama Lucy Kibaki Hospital, Nairobi.

Dr Amoth has had extensive experience in civil service, having risen from a Medical Officer at Kisumu’s Provincial Hospital.
A graduate of the University of Nairobi’s Medical School with a Masters in Obstetrics and Gynecology from the same university, Dr Amoth is an excellent manager who spearheaded successful fundraising for the hospital, initiating various programmes and revolutionising infrastructural improvement of most health facilities.

A Director General is the technical advisor to the Government on all matters relating to health within the sector and the technical advisor to the Cabinet Secretary of Health.

The official is also responsible for preventing and guarding against the introduction of infectious diseases into Kenya, promoting public health and the prevention, limitation or suppression of infectious, communicable or preventable diseases within Kenya and advising the two levels of government on matters of national security in public health.
The office holder also promotes and facilitates research and investigations in connection with the prevention or treatment of human diseases, preparing and publishing reports and statistical or other information relative to public health, as well as obtaining and publishing periodically information on infectious diseases and other health matters and such procurable information regarding epidemic diseases in territories adjacent to Kenya or other countries as the interests of public health may require.

The office holder is also tasked with the responsibility of providing guidelines for registration, licensing, certification and gazettement of all health facilities, being responsible for internship programmes for health workers, supervising the directorates within the national Ministry of Health and performing any other duties as may be assigned by the appointing authority and any other written law.

—Source: NMG 

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