Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki yesterday told senators that counties are not paying for leased medical equipment.
Ms Kariuki said no funds had been deducted from the counties’ shareable revenue since money for the Managed Equipment Service (MES) was under the national government kitty.
“I want to look into the eyes of the public and tell them that no county is paying for the equipment. The money is being paid as a conditional grant from the national government,” she said.
Kariuki said that the funds allocated for the MES project were in a vote held under the Health ministry.
But the statement irked members of a Senate ad hoc committee that is investigating the opaque nature of the multi-billion-shilling scheme.
The senators told Kariuki that funding for MES is captured under the equitable shareable revenue for the counties both in the Division of Revenue Act (Dora) and the County Allocation Revenue Act (Cara).
“We have been having a standoff between the Senate and the National Assembly because this money is allocated in the equitable shareable revenue. We pass both Dora and Cara. You cannot use this committee to lie to the public,” said Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula.
Kariuki said the MES was expanded to 21 county hospitals because of a need for specialised equipment to ensure medical access as the ministry implements the universal health care programme. She said the expansion would cost Sh3.7 billion for five years or an annual payment of Sh740 million. The facilities, she added, had received the equipment except for Meru Hospital where ICU and renal kits had not been installed.
Kariuki also said that a Health Care Information Technology (HCIT) system that was to be installed would allow hospitals without radiologists to digitally transmit patients’ images for remote review by experts.
“This would greatly enhance service delivery against the backdrop of the existing shortage of trained radiologists. The HCIT solution was procured at Sh4.7 billion for five years, translating to an annual payment of Sh970 million. However, the project stalled and no payment has been made to the contractor.”
According to the CS, the budget for MES increased to Sh9.4 billion in the 2018-19 financial year because of the additional contract of the HCIT (Sh970 million), annual payment due to expansion of the 21 health facilities (Sh740 million), laboratory equipment procurement (Sh1 billion), PKF, monitoring and evaluation, mid-term review and administration (Sh298 million).
She told the committee that the rationale for the expansion was to make health care accessible in remote areas, increase capacity in busy hospitals and bring services closer to the people.
The CS tabled a 2013 Kenya Service Availability and Readiness Assessment Mapping Report to prove that consultation and public participation had been conducted in all health facilities before the MES project was rolled out.
She said her ministry and the devolved units had assessed infrastructure, equipment and personnel needs in selected hospitals.
Kariuki said the five contractors who provided the equipment had been paid Sh26.7 billion. Acting Controller of Budget Stephen Masha had put the figure at Sh25.9 billion.
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