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State owes maternity hospitals Sh206 million

 The national government owes Pumwani Maternity Hospital Sh108.4 million. [File, Standard]

Free maternity services in Nairobi have suffered a setback following a delay by the national government to disbursing Sh206.5 million.

In a report, Auditor General Edward Ouko critiqued the Ministry of Health for not reimbursing the crucial funds as part of the scheme that began in 2013.

Pumwani Maternity, Mama Lucy Kibaki and Mbagathi hospitals had to operate on approximately half or less the funds budgeted for in the 2015-16 financial year.

This means mothers incurred extra costs.

“The reimbursement of free maternity cover scheme had been budgeted for use on hospital operations. With the continued delay in reimbursements of the capitation and free maternity funds, service delivery at the hospitals stands to be adversely affected,” Mr Ouko said.

The report, which poked holes into the financial statements of the Nairobi County Executive for the year 20150-16, revealed that Pumwani Maternity Hospital only received Sh173.8 million against an expected reimbursement of Sh282.3 million.

Civil servants

Consequently, this led to a balance of Sh108.4 million. Some 17,712 deliveries were recorded at the facility between July 2015 and June last year.

Mama Lucy did not receive Sh35.3 million for the free maternity cover reimbursements. Similarly, under the National Hospital Insurance Fund capitation for civil servants and national schemes, the hospital was to be reimbursed Sh9.4 million but only received Sh7 million resulting in a balance of Sh2.3 million as at June 30, 2016.

“No explanation has been rendered for the delayed reimbursements by the national government,” stated Ouko. 

Despite the shortage of funds, deliveries in Mbagathi hospital increased by 82 per cent. It recorded 12,405 births in 2015-16 compared to 6,832 in the  2014-15 financial year.

This was albeit the fact that it was not reimbursed Sh60 million out of which Sh34 million related to the year under review. It only received Sh58.5 million out of a cumulative balance of 127.9 million. 

Notably, the lack of adequate funding for free maternity services has been blamed for instances where mothers are detained in hospitals over medical bills.

This is despite the fact that the scheme was intended to make sure that women admitted on maternity services do not pay a single cent.

Some mothers frequenting the facilities have to dig deep into their pockets to buy drugs which are not available at the hospitals.

A report released early last month indicated hundreds of women were detained in city hospitals for failing to pay medical fees.

UK-based Chatham House in the report cited birth complications as the major reasons for the detentions.

The free maternity cover is a scheme by the Ministry of Health in partnership with the Nairobi county government rolled out in 2013. NHIF also provides a free cover for expectant women for their maternity expenses as well as their family medical costs.

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