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Irony of Sh63b idle medical machines in busy hospitals

Health & Science
 Health CS Sicily Kariuki when she appeared before the Senate Ad-Hoc Committee on the medical leasing equipment at Parliament on October 22, 2019. [Boniface Okendo/Standard]

Some of the leased medical equipment supplied to county hospitals through the Managed Equipment Service (MES) programme are yet to be operational, the Senate has been told.

The National Government supplied the medical equipment worth Sh63 billion to 30 health facilities in 27 counties.

According to documents tabled in the Senate, the equipment are lying idle at the health facilities because the Ministry of Health is yet to deploy qualified personnel to the counties to operate them.

For instance, in Wajir and Homa Bay Counties the MES equipment are not in use because there is no radiologist or anesthetist to handle them.

Appearing before the Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Medical Leasing Equipment on Tuesday, Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki was at pains to explain why her docket delivered the equipment and yet they are not being used.

Seneta questions

Nominated Senator Mary Seneta was the first to question Ms Kariuki, demanding to know why some counties were still paying for the maintenance of the equipment.

“What was the hurry for purchasing these equipment if they cannot be commissioned? MES is not working,” Ms Seneta said.

Kariuki defended the purchase of the equipment, saying not all of them were idle because of lack of personnel.

“I want to tell the committee that the equipment were not dumped in the counties. What I know is that for the discussions on how the counties will adopt the equipment... each county gave its own demands," said Kariuki.

She added that the digital general X-ray had been installed in the hospitals, ready for use.

The problem is some of the hospitals do not have adequate electricity.

Counties not consulted

“Other equipment like mammography, ultrasound and OPG are also ready to offer services," Kariuki said.

Nominated Senator Judith Pareno, however, faulted Kariuki’s explanation, insisting that counties were never consulted when the MES agreement was mooted.

Ms Pareno said in some cases, three CT scans would be delivered to the county hospitals through the programme, despite county governments having already purchased a CT scan.

“The equipment are idle because counties had already purchased others earlier," said Pareno.

“What I understand from this issue is that some people won tenders through MES and decided to dump them in county hospitals. The ministry was just reckless to allow this."

Committee chairperson Fatuma Dullo also sought to know from the CS whether her ministry had made any interventions to ensure the equipment were functional.

“This is ridiculous. You mean after three years these equipment are still idle? You must have surely done something to fix the electricity if that was the problem,” said Ms Dullo.

On the issue of personnel, Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang'ula wondered what kind of consultation happened between the ministry and the county governments when the equipment were delivered.

He said if there was proper consultation, the machines would not have been delivered without having at least one qualified staff to operate them.

“Who did you consult in the counties?" Mr Wetang'ula posed, then added: "That notwithstanding, you did not tell counties to first train their own personnel before you handed the machines to them. You went ahead and dumped the equipment in the various county hospitals in counties.”

Dumped equipment

The committee also learned that although the Council of Governors (CoG) had complained that it was not consulted when the contracts to purchase the machines were floated, some governors still went ahead to accept them.

Last week, when CoG chairman Wycliffe Oparanya appeared before the committee, he said governors were not consulted and that the equipment were just dumped in the hospitals.

According to the documents tabled in the Senate, several governors, among them Oparanya, Ferdinand Waititu (Kiambu), Granton Samboja (Taita Taveta), Ali Roba (Mandera), Kiraitu Murungi (Meru) and Francis Kimemia (Nyandarua), accepted the machines.

In a letter dated March 20, 2018, and seen by The Standard, Oparanya requested Deputy President William Ruto to consider Kakamega County Teaching and Referral Hospital (KCTRH) as one of the recipients of the MES programme machines.

MES success

“Looking at the success of the implementation of the MES programme rolled out by the National Government in all the counties, it is our desire to request the inclusion of the KCTRH in the MES programme,” reads the letter.

In Nyandarua, Mr Kimemia wrote to the ministry on September 6, 2017, requesting it to expand the MES programme to other facilities within the county.

In Meru, Mr Murungi sought the installation of an ICU facility in Meru Hospital.

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