County health facilities chock in debts at the start of a new financial year

Mombasa County Governor, Ali Hassan Joho talks to a patient, Farida Kache at Coast General Hospital maternity and child health centre during the official handing over of the Coast General maternity reception and high dependency unit. Debts are threatening public hospitals with probable shutdowns. [File, Standard]

Public hospitals might be forced to suspend critical services as counties grapple with a growing debt burden.

The health facilities owe government suppliers a staggering Sh1.4 billion, with a huge chunk of the debt owed to supplier of medicine Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (KEMSA). The facilities have not paid KEMSA Sh1.2 billion, a situation that might see the medical supplier discontinue its services leaving millions without medical care.

As of August 17, 2018, public health facilities in Nairobi owe KEMSA the highest amount at Sh234 million followed by Narok at Sh105 million.

Other counties that owe the medical supplier cash above Sh40 million include; Machakos (50,202,331), Migori (58,276,507) and Vihiga (78,513,730), Meru (42,292,818), Murang’a (46,966,447) and Taita Taveta (49,409,857), Trans Nzoia (41,407,560)

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KEMSA Director of Commercial Services Eliud Muriithi assured governors that they would continue supplying medicine to the county facilities, but reminded them that most importantly, the counties must show a commitment to pay.

“We shall continue supporting all the counties with medical commodities. Most important is commitment to pay,” said Muriithi.

Unpaid power bills

Despite assuring the counties of their continued support of the fundamental health services, the suppliers did not rule out to possibility of cutting the stream when push comes to shove.

Kenya Power has also raised concern over the huge amount of monies owed to it by many health facilities across the 47 counties.

The letter dated August 9, 2018 brings to the governors’ attention the huge debts owed to Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC). As of June, the hospitals owed KPLC Sh186 million in unpaid power bills.

In a letter addressed to the chairman of the Council of Governors Josphat Nanok, Energy Principal Secretary Peter Tum asked county bosses to settle electricity debt owed by public health facilities to avoid power switch off.

“We seek intervention of your office to have the electricity debt settled to avoid a situation where the utility company may be forced to switch off the supply for the health facilities,” said Tum in the letter.

Tum said that Kenya Power has avoided interrupting power supply due to the sensitivity and importance of the health services to the public. 

“The company however has an obligation to pay power generators and manage its operations hence it expects that the health facilities should settle their monthly bills by due date.”

Nairobi has incurred the highest debt, owing the power supplier more than Sh27 million. It is followed by Nyeri at Sh13 million, Kiambu with debt of Sh11 million and Mombasa at Sh.9,152,008.

Samburu County owes the power company the least amount, Sh7,533, followed by Garissa (Sh163,462) and West Pokot (328,362).

In Nairobi, Mama Lucy Kibaki Hospital and Mbagathi District Hospital have the highest debt at Sh11 million and Sh7 million respectively.

Serving the poor

Mama Lucy Hospital located in Kayole serves hundreds of patients from Eastlands every day but has been recently on the spot for poor services. Nairobi County had early this year embarked on transforming Mama Lucy Kibaki Hospital into modern facilities setting oxygen plants in the facilty.

Mathari Mental hospital, Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation; morgue and kitchen are also greatly indebted to KPLC.

Garrisa Provincial General Hospital and Thika Distric Hospital have the biggest power bill arrears in Kiambu County while in Nyeri, Embu Provincial General Hospital and Meru District Hospital bears the heaviest debt burden.

Kemsa also listed Kitui, Mandera, Makueni, Nyandarua, Embu and Laikipia counties as the best paying counties, who comply to the payment 45 days after delivery agreement.

Public HospitalsCountiesRisk ShuttingDebt