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Graft: Another scandal hits Health Ministry

Health & Science
 Health PS Peter Tum when he appeared before PAC on Monday to explain audit queries in the ministry. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

The country risks losing Sh8.4 billion in a planned procurement of medical equipment.

This follows concerns that the quoted price of Sh227 million each for 37 CT scanners was inflated.

The National Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) puts the cost of a scanner at about Sh40 million.

This emerged yesterday amid reports that the equipment had initially been budgeted for under Managed Equipment Service (MES) arrangement at a cost Sh4.5 billion.

The Ministry of Health did not purchase the scanners under the initial plan and instead awarded a fresh tender to a Chinese firm in a government to government agreement.

In the contract, the Chinese government is set to foot 80 per cent of the cost to be repaid by the Kenyan tax payers- while the government will pay the remaining 20 per cent.

The National Treasury has since paid Sh1.7 billion towards the contract.

The details emerged when Health Principal Secretary Peter Tum appeared before PAC to answer to audit queries of 2015/16 financial year.

The MPs expressed their concern that there was a plan to inflate the price of a CT scanner four fold to benefit senior government officials in the Ministry of Health and the National Treasury.

The MPs said it will require Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich to explain the circumstances under which payments were approved after it emerged that it was done without the approval of Parliament.

The Opiyo Wandayi (Ugunja) led committee further wants former Health CS Cleopas Mailu to appear before it on the matter that could turn out to be yet another multi-billion tender scandal.

“The CT scanners should have been included in the MES. Were there any reasons why it was not included?,” said Wandayi.

Tongaren MP Eseli Simiyu demanded to know why the ministry opted to buy the equipment instead of leasing which was a relatively cheaper option for the government.

PS Tum, however, said Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and CT-Scanners were not part of the MES project.

The PS said the Ministry purchased theatre equipment, Laboratory equipment, theatre equipment, renal equipment, Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and radiology equipment.

The PS further defended the unit cost, saying it included, construction of new building, air conditioners, special thermal film printer, report printer, warranty and spare parts for five years.

Installation costs

He explained that it also included installation of the equipment at Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital, Kenyatta National Hospital and 34 facilities in 34 counties selected to benefit from the medical equipment.

The PS was further put to task over Sh1 billion mobile clinics, which are yet to be put in use.

The ministry said they had written to the Ethics and Ant-Corruption – which is probing the matter – to allow them use the facility even as the investigations were still going on.

He said 11 clinics had already been put in use in Nairobi while another 89 were still at a yard in Mombasa.

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