Samboja bought low-quality machines claims expert

Taita-Taveta Governor Granton Samboja during a press conference in Nairobi. [David Njaaga/Standard]
The county government disregarded experts' opinion before buying substandard ultrasound machines, the assembly has been told.

The opinion came from radiographers and sonographers attached to county hospitals.

Fredrick Sofali, one of the senior Sonographers at the Voi County Referral Hospital, told the joint Committee on Health and Administration yesterday that neither sonographer nor a radiographer was involved in the procurement process.

The ultrasound machines were bought with funding from the World Bank. They were supposed to improve maternal and child healthcare services in county hospitals.

According to Mr Sofali, county officials procured Vscan Portable Ultrasound machines, instead of Doppler Ultrasound machines.

The latter, Sofali said, are not certified to be used in hospitals. The committee was further told the World Bank had funded the purchase of the machines to the tune of Sh32 million, but the county spent only Sh10 million.

"We were not involved in the procurement process. The specifications that we could have advised on during procurement are not there," Mr Sofali said.

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"The machines that were procured can only produce white and black images. They are completely not tailored for our modern requirements."

Sofali said the machines are now compromising the health of residents, and undermining the delivery of universal health care services in the region.

He also added that the training of more personnel to operate the machines was supposed to be undertaken, but the county health department did not make arrangements for it.

The committee later summoned Health Executive Daniel Makoko and his Chief Officer Christine Mwakera to shed light on the issue.

Mr Makoko and Dr Mwakera were hard-pressed to explain why they ignored professional advice from the technical staff and went ahead to procure poor quality machines.

Anselim Mwadime, the Mgange-Mwanda Ward representative, alleged that a powerful cartel had taken over the management of the health department and demanded its disbandment.

In the department's defence, Dr Mwakera told the committee her office had documents showing that the machines were procured from the American company, General Electric (GE).

However, she confirmed that the machines bought were not the ones requested by the radiology department. Mwakera said that fact notwithstanding, hospitals such as Voi County Referral, Wesu, Njukini, Dilidau, Ndovu and Buguta health centres have benefited.

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Substandard Ultrasound machinesTaita Taveta Governor Granton Samboja