Health care sick, can’t find itself an ICU bed
SEE ALSO :Jowie admitted to hospitalLaunched by the Health Cabinet Secretary on August 17, the report found several systemic weaknesses and failures in the ministry’s procurement policies and practices. The lack of a list of accredited suppliers, periodic reviews of essential medicines, involvement of health experts in developing market prices index and general procurement guidelines are among them. While very welcome, the review findings are not a surprise to some of us. It validates the whistle-blowing policy brief released three years earlier. The EACC acknowledge the “sealing corruption loopholes in our health procurement system” 2015 report as the primary reason for the review last year. The issues it touches on relate to lapses in the ministry in 2014 and 2015. At least three Cabinet and Principal Secretaries have come and gone. The scandal with GAVI and other donor funds remains unaddressed. Accounting officers entrusted with public duty have neither been absolved or implicated by this or any other investigations. Systematic failure
SEE ALSO :Newborns at KNH face risksThere are two questions we need to ask. Does the government treat these lapses as matters of systemic failure, criminal negligence or both? What is the impact of delayed reviews and institutional reform? In his national call against corruption in November 2015, President Uhuru Kenyatta seemed clear on the first matter. He called for major reforms at the Public Procurement Oversight Authority (PPOA) and announced that the Department of Criminal Investigation (DCI) and Assets Recovery Agency would investigate both companies and state officers who have colluded to illegally increase health care costs. Secondly, we know that the percentage of citizens using government health facilities dropped by 27 per cent last year. Nearly half of these may have moved to private or NGO facilities. These figures sound an alarm to those of us who believe in universal health care. Citizens have cited the lack of medical staff, cost, distance and quality of treatment in this order. To borrow a phrase from our indefatigable Director of Public Prosecutions, the system of chaos has to be transformed from many ends. Tighter policy oversight, swifter interruption of corruption cartels and deeper patient awareness and vigilance will fix this. If we do this, our public clinics, dispensaries and hospitals will become equipped, empathetic and professional spaces of sanctuary and recovery. Not just for Hannah and some of us, but even for the relatives and friends of those currently sabotaging our facilities. -The writer is Amnesty International Executive Director. He writes in his personal capacity. Twitter: @irunguhoughton.