Sh1 billion needed to improve services at Mathari Referral Hospital, says CS Kariuki

A section of mentally ill patients under rehabilitation at Mathari Mental Hospital in Nairobi.The Hospital has expressed concern over inadequate support it receives from the government, a situation that has forced the hospital to render poor services to the patients. [PHOTO DAVID NJAAGA/STANDARD]

Mathari Teaching and Referral Hospital requires at least Sh1 billion to operate efficiently, Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki has said.

The CS said the hospital, which serves as the only country’s referral facility, has been in a dilapidated state, with congestion and lack of the necessary equipment.

During an impromptu visit to the hospital on Tuesday, the CS directed a contractor working with the Ministry of Health to ensure a Computerised Tomography(CT) scan.

She said that congestion at the facility was straining the budget and service delivery adding that measures will be put in place to address the issues.

Mathari Hospital currently houses 750 patients against its ideal number of 600 inmates. It also receives 800 outpatients every week who are brought for examinations.

“The current budget cannot afford to cater for 700 plus patients here. We cannot put matters of mental health as back banner,” noted CS.

Until December last year, the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) owed Mathari Hospital Sh105 million in reimbursement, which National Assembly Health Committee was informed is one of the reason the hospital is in a bad state.

Health Chief Administrative Secretary Dr Rashid Aman also argued that the reason why Mathari was not receiving adequate funds from the exchequer is because it does not have a Board as required by all state agencies to push for higher allocations.

Because of this, Mathari Hospital despite being a national referral facility, is being funded as a ‘unit’ under the ministry and not as fully fledged parastatal like their Counterparts-Kenyatta National Hospital and Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital.

The CS argued that delinking the facility from direct control by the Ministry of Health will promote service delivery at the hospital while allowing the ministry to focus on capacity building in health.

“There is a need to make the hospital autonomous to improve its efficiency. It should have its own board to oversee its operations,” said CS after touring the institution today.

CS Kariuki further revealed that the Government was considering decentralizing mental health services in the country to ease congestion at the psychiatry facility.

She claimed that there were many cases of patients being taken to the Nairobi-based hospital even for cases that can be handled at the county level, a matter which she said was causing congestion.

“We will get report from technical team that will inform steps towards decentralizing mental health services,” she added.

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Mathari Teaching and Referral HospitalSh1 billionSicily KariukiDr Rashid AmanGovernmentNHIF