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Home / Health & Science

Govt to reimburse money owed to counties offering free maternity services, DMS Muraguri says

HEALTH & SCIENCEBy CYRUS OMBATI | Thu,Oct 29 2015 17:37:27 EAT
By CYRUS OMBATI | Thu,Oct 29 2015 17:37:27 EAT

 Director of Medical Services Dr Nicholas Muraguri

NAIROBI: The government will reimburse money owed to the counties that is supposed to cater for free maternity services.

Director of Medical Services Dr Nicholas Muraguri said they are aware of the outstanding money and internal audit department is finalising its work to release the money as soon as possible.

“Audit department will give its report then we pay. We are aware and the service is crucial,” he said.

He added this is an area they have seen an improvement in overall. There has been a double increase in deliveries in Homa Bay, Marsabit and Machakos Counties, he added.

“There has been a positive impact overall given there is an increase from 44 to 60 percent in deliveries in public hospitals and this is very good. We will not abandon the project,” said Dr Muraguri.

The DMS was reacting to news Jubilee government’s plan to offer free maternity services in public hospitals in the city could be cancelled if the ministry of health does not reimburse Sh165.1 million it owes Nairobi City County.

Governor Evans Kidero had threatened to cancel the plan and start charging patients seeking the services if the ministry does not reimburse the money.

He wrote to health Cabinet Secretary complaining that non-reimbursement of the money by the ministry had made the programme untenable for the county hospitals.

“In compliance to Central Government directive on provision of free Maternity services, Nairobi City County has an outstanding reimbursement of over nine months amounting to Sh165 million whose details are well within the knowledge of your ministry.”

“The situation is untenable; we therefore demand that the re-imbursement be made with immediate effect. We are unable to continue providing the much needed service. We will have no alternative but to revert to charging the services,” said Kidero in a letter dated October 28.

The ministry has in the past said the free maternity programme has been successfully rolled out at a cost of Sh3.8 billion.

An official at the Council of Governors said a similar problem is facing many counties.

“The problem is all over because the ministry is yet to reimburse monies to the counties especially on maternity services. We hope they will address the issue soon,” said an official who asked not to be named.

During the presidential poll campaigns, the Jubilee Coalition promised to guarantee access to primary health care to all Kenyans, with a special emphasis on children, expectant mothers and persons with disability.

The government promised to improve service provisions in the health facilities across the country. Most of the health services are under the County Governments. The provision of the services has been wanting.

In the past, delivery of services in public hospitals has suffered from inadequate manpower, drugs, and medical equipment. Although the ministry has in the past few years run on a budget equivalent to six per cent of the total government budget, that was still below the 15 per cent recommended by global health organisations.

Medics and nurses have complained about poor working conditions, pointing out they are, sometimes, forced, in efforts to save life, expose themselves to danger when they work without protective gear like gloves.

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