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Treasury on the spot over delay in remitting maternity funds

COUNTIES
By Silah Koskei | April 12th 2016

The National Treasury has been blamed for delays in remitting maternity funds to counties.

Most of the hospitals in the North Rift can no longer cope with the number of deliveries due to lack of funds.

In Nandi County, Kenya National Union of Nurses (Knun) officials led by branch secretary Amos Ngetich, said hospitals in the region have not  received Sh40 million for the last two financial quarters.

"But inasmuch as we are blaming the national government for late disbursement, the biggest problem we have is right here in the counties where  the relevant authorities maintain that the money is part of revenue," he said.

Mr Ngetich noted that attempts to access the funds have proved a challenge, with the county insisting that a bill would have to be passed before the funds are disbursed to county hospitals.

"The executive maintains that they are guided by the Public Finance Management Act and that there should be a bill that would compel the county to release the funds to health facilities," he added.

In Turkana, the county has a debt of Sh8 million meant for sub-county hospitals and an additional Sh1 million for Lodwar Referral Hospital. The maternity funds have been withheld as revenue by the county treasury.

Turkana Medical Superintendent Gilchrist Lokoel noted that the funds were crucial for acquisition of pharmaceuticals, employment of additional casuals and supplements such as porridge for pregnant women.

He said they recently entered into an agreement with the county government on how to channel the maternity funds to health facilities in the region.

"Following massive negotiations with the county, we got a breakthrough and we are currently waiting for the funds to be sent to hospitals this week. The delay has been a challenge to us even as we encourage women in major areas to visit health facilities for safe delivery," said Mr Lokoel.

He wondered why the national government would delay in disbursing the funds yet the ministry can access information on the number of deliveries through the Health Information System (HIS) located in all health facilities across the country.

Similar cases of delay from the national government were also reported in Uasin Gishu, Elgeyo Marakwet and Trans Nzoia counties.

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