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Universal healthcare still a paper dream as plans miss their completion timelines

Health & Science
 A block at the Mama Lucy Kibaki Hospital in Nairobi. Construction works stopped due to lack of funds.

Renovations and equipping of the National Spinal Injury Hospital at a cost of Sh230 million is one of the projects under the Ministry of Health that have stalled way beyond their completion dates.

As detailed in the latest breakdown of government projects released by the National Treasury, the incomplete renovations have contributed to the Sh231.8 billion worth of incomplete projects under the Ministry of Health.

So far, the ministry has spent Sh74.2 billion on projects, some which were scheduled to be complete by 2015.

The renovation of the National Spinal Injury Hospital, which involved constructing a wall and procuring equipment, was to be complete by June 30, 2019.

However, by the said period, the project was just 12 per cent complete with Sh15 million already spent.

“No allocation in 2018/19. The project will be allocated funds in 2019/20 to fully complete it,” reads the report.

Under the same ministry, is establishment of regional cancer centres at a cost of Sh8 billion. The project kicked off on January 7, 2016 and is expected to be complete by June 30, 2021.

However, this deadline is unlikely to be attained considering it has taken the government three years since 2016 to achieve 3.5 per cent completion.

The regional cancer centres were to be set up in Nakuru, Nyeri, Kisii and Mombasa. These centres are supposed to ease the huge numbers of patients --up to 47,000 every year -- who flock KNH and Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital for treatment.

“Chemotherapy equipment has been supplied to three centres,” reads the report.

Cancer centre

The Sh250 million cancer treatment centre project at KNH has also gone beyond its completion date of September 2019.

Phase one of the project, which kicked off on September 9, 2018 is 38 per cent complete.

In Kisii, the ministry could not construct a cancer centre at Kisii Level IV Hospital at a cost of Sh2.28 billion since there was no allocation of funds in the financial year 2018/19.

The project which was initiated on August 10, 2016 is expected to be complete the same date in 2022.

The upgrade of health centres in slums at a cost of Sh6 billion which started in July 2013 and expected to end June 2016, is set to be complete this year.

“The project will be completed by 2019/20 and the mobile clinics handed over to the counties,” reads the report. A project to procure equipment at the National Blood Transfusion Services at a cost of Sh2.025 billion that started in February 2015 was 27 per cent complete as at June 2019. The project has a set completion date of February 2023.

It is this project that the ministry is banking on as the country sought to transit from donor dependence for blood processing services.

So far, Sh546 million has been used, whose effect is yet to be felt even as hospitals in the country are grappling with shortage of blood following the fund cuts by the US President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief(Pepfar).

“The equipment to process blood into blood products are urgently required. In addition, equipment to screen for emerging diseases are urgently needed,” the report reads.

The report notes that there is need for more financial allocation to cushion the reduction in donor support and increase availability of safe blood and blood products.

The upgrade of the country’s national mental facility Mathari Teaching and Referral Hospital has stalled as well, and may not be completed by the set date of June 30,2021.

The Sh549 million project that kicked off in July 30, 2013 was meant to modernise wards and staff houses.

“The contract is in phases due to budget constraints. The buildings are in extreme disrepair,” reads the report.

At KNH, the upgrade of a renal unit stood at 85 per cent completion as at June 2019 for a project whose set completion date is July 31, 2019.

The Sh200 million project started in January 8, 2018.

A day care surgical centre at the same facility being constructed at a cost of Sh378 million stood at 95 per cent completion as at June 2019. Its set completion date is August 12, 2019.

“95 per cent of construction is complete. Awaiting Sh176 million for equipping and commissioning,” reads the report.

It will also be sometime before KNH finishes the paediatric and burns centre which started in August 3, 2018 and was just 30 per cent complete as at June 30, 2019. The project is expected to be complete by August 20, 2020.

Payment delays

“The construction is experiencing challenges due to delays of payments by the financiers,” reads the report. The project is fully sponsored by the government at a cost of Sh2.9 billion.

Universal Health Coverage (UHC), which is expected to be attained by 2022 has been allocated Sh25.39 billion as per the breakdown.

The national commodities storage centre for Kenya Medical Supply Agencies (Kemsa) is 40 per cent complete as per the report.

The facility, being constructed at a cost of Sh3.97 billion is expected to be complete by June 30,2021. The project started in January 2018.

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