By Paul Wafula
Kenya: Thirty counties will spend less on health this year, compared to what the national government spent on citizens in 2012.
In their rush to beat the June 30, 2013, deadline set by the Public Finance Management Act, many counties ended up under-budgeting on health, a move that could drastically affect service delivery and create a national health crisis.
Tharaka Nithi, Nyeri, Homa Bay, Kitui and Kericho top the list of counties that slashed their budgets by more than half, compared to what the Ministry of Health previously spent in each of the areas before the advent of devolution.
But there are also counties that before the advent of devolution. But there are also counties that doubled their health development expenditure, a move that could improve health services in these areas. These include Kisii, Bomet, Laikipia, Kakamega and Turkana.
However, only 17 counties increased their development expenditure, money which goes directly into improving infrastructure to boost service delivery.
The revelation will hurt the expectations of many Kenyans who had hoped that devolution would solve their most pressing problems that the central government had ignored for decades. More than six months on the devolution road, an examination of the county health budgets and priorities reveals that most county governments may be failing the test of investing innovatively for the health of the people.
It is conceivable that many of the counties that were already doing badly before devolution will have slim chances of improving. Some counties have invested as little as Sh24 per person in developing health, while the best spenders are counting on donors to honour their promises to supplement funds.
Starting Tuesday November 11, The Standard will provide comprehensive coverage of devolution of health services to help Kenyans visualise the state of health in their counties and know what the local governments are doing to improve healthcare.
Our two-month investigation reveals that the race by most of the 47 new county governments to prepare budgets to beat the deadline by the central Government may inadvertently have set them up for failure.
Our investigation reviews how much each county is spending on your healthcare and the challenges faced in service delivery to deal with neglected diseases such as trachoma in West Pokot and elephantiasis in and Kilifi. Finally we will look at the challenges of politics and priorities in Tharaka Nithi.
Additional information on how counties spend on health http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/health/changeforhealth