Get to the bottom of grey areas in health equipment leasing deal

Revelations that taxpayers may not get value for money in the health equipment leasing scheme involving counties are startling to say the least. The leasing deal that was signed in February 2015 between the national government and the counties despite hue and cry from governors, continues raising more questions than answers.

The taxpayer, already burdened by the high cost of living, may have incurred an additional Sh25 billion on top of the Sh63 billion the equipment lease was originally to cost. Besides the astronomical costing, there are serious procurement questions.

Shockingly, items listed in the leasing deal involving suppliers from the US, China, The Netherlands, India and Italy include bedside lockers, refrigerators, washing machines, kettles, surgical sets, stethoscopes, trolleys and stretches. Since 2015, the counties have been paying between Sh90 million and Sh200 million annually and upfront but some counties are yet to receive equipment. Granted, it is baffling how the 47 counties would pay same rate but fail to receive uniform supplies.

This week, Health CS clashed with senators after she failed to present lease agreements and details of the payments. The lawmakers now plan to question former Health Cabinet Secretaries James Macharia and Cleophas Mailu and PS Nicholas Muraguri.

We urge the Senate, which has termed the deal a rip-off, to leave no stone unturned in probing all the grey areas. We call on the government to clear doubts hanging over this deal, whose purpose, we believe, was to bring services closer to people in the counties. While it may be too early to question the deal’s viability, CS Kariuki should set the record straight.

President Uhuru Kenyatta has identified health as one of the Big Four Agenda. We caution that failure to justify this apparent extravagance could jeopardise the President Kenyatta’s plans. Kenyans deserve answers without any tinge of spite from ministry officials.

Any deal meant to benefit the public shouldn’t be opaque. A country that needs to prevent chronic disease and lower costs through affordable healthcare deserves better than this unfolding situation.  

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Health EquipmentNHIFMinistry of HealthTax