Opposition leader Raila Odinga has revisited a plan to put up a Sh22 billion cancer facility that he claims was rejected by Cabinet eight years ago.
Raila says the project that was to be implemented by the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) in Karen stalled during the grand coalition government in which he served as prime minister.
Speaking in Kisumu on Saturday during the burial of governor Joyce Laboso, Raila said the idea was shot down by some members of the Cabinet on grounds that it fell outside the mandate of NHIF.
“When we were in government Mr President, Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o (then the minister for health) came up with a programme to create a centre of excellence; a centre for research and management for diseases like cancer,” he said
“There was even land that had been identified for it. But because of ignorance, it was opposed by other members of Cabinet and it never saw the light of the day.
Raila said the centre could have addressed the menace created by the disease that is now killing up to 90 Kenyans everyday.
Raila was supporting governor Nyong'o's appeal who had asked President Uhuru Kenyatta to revisit the stalled project.
“What Prof Nyong’o is saying is known very well. He has the details. He is able to share the information with your government and if we follow that route, you will be able to set up a proper facility that will help us to manage cancer that is claiming so many of our people,” he said.
The idea to develop a 23-acre plot in Karen by NHIF, as a resource centre was conceived in 2001, and approved by the parastatal's board.
On May 3, 2008, the Health ministry obtained Cabinet approval for the establishment of a high-level National and Regional Resource Centre encompassing a specialised medical centre and training facility by NHIF.
In 2010, the Government opened bilateral talks with China for funding. Raila, then the Prime Minister, and a China Development Bank delegation led by Governor Jiang Chaoling met on May 17, 2010, and resolved that the project's funding be undertaken through the Development Bank of Kenya (DBK).
"This project has been listed as a strategic health sector project to be financed through the line of credit being sought from DBC in partnership with DBK. The purpose of writing is to inform you to liaise with the CEO of DBK for the prerequisite documentation and project appraisal to facilitate its implementation," the then acting Permanent Secretary, Andrew Mondoh, wrote to the then NHIF boss, Richard Kerich on June 9, 2010.
However, the project was suspended in 2011 after Cabinet rescinded its early approval. The plot set aside for the project is still undeveloped.
In 2015, Auditor General Edward Ouko questioned delays in implementing the Sh22 billion project. This even as it emerged that a parliamentary committee which was investigating the delay had recommended that the project commences immediately and be completed within five years.