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Will new health deal for counties finally treat the ailing sector?

 Kisii Governor Simba Arati and Health CS Susan Nakumincha during a consultative meeting in Naivasha where the controversial Managed Equipment Services (MES) health scheme was scrapped and replaced by the National Equipment Support to Counties (NESC). [Antony Gitonga, Standard]

The controversial Managed Equipment Services (MES) project has come to an end after governors and the Ministry of Health agreed on a new model following a two-day consultative meeting in Naivasha.

The Council of Governors (CoG) terminated the MES project that was meant to support the devolution of equitable, accessible, affordable, and quality health care to counties.

The project, which has been in existence for the past ten years, faced numerous challenges in its implementation, some of which included infrastructure such as three-phase power, staff availability, training, and physical structures.

CoG and the Ministry of Health terminated the project as the national government and counties agreed to streamline health services.

CoG Health Committee chairperson Muthomi Njuki said the service will now be referred to as National Equipment Support to Counties (NESC), which will be undertaken by the national government.

MES was started in 2015 by the Ministry of Health on behalf of the 47 devolved units to supply and equip two hospitals in every county with high-tech machines to manage chronic diseases like cancer.

Ministry in a spot over costly medical equipment deal

The contract entailed leasing assorted medical equipment for renal, laboratory, ICU, radiology, and theatre to at least two hospitals in each of the 47 counties over a seven-year period. Njuki lauded the move to scrap MES for NESC, noting that the former was shrouded in controversy.

"We are happy to announce the death of MES which for a long time was shrouded in mystery right from inception and we are ready for change," he said.

Njuki, who is also Tharaka Nithi Governor, said the new system would help improve service delivery to the people.

Health Cabinet Secretary Susan Nakumincha thanked the governors for giving the ministry the mandate to execute MES through Intergovernmental Participation Agreements (IPAs).

The CS added that the Ministry was keen to roll out the Universal Health Care (UHC) which was part of the promise by the President.

"After so much noise we have agreed with the governors on the Managed Equipment Service scheme and we thank them for giving us the opportunity to provide the services," she said.

CoG chair Ann Waiguru, said all pending issues on medical equipment and related services deployed by the national government in counties have been agreed upon by the two levels of government.

Reading a joint communique, Waiguru said the funding for level 1,2, and 3 facilities would be financed through a publicly financed mechanism and individual capitation.

"Level 4 and 5 hospitals will be financed through Social Health Insurance while Level 6 will be financed through a Critical Illness Fund and Social Health Insurance," she said.

On Community Health Promoters (CMP), the Kirinyaga Governor said the two levels of government will jointly facilitate the payment of stipends to them.

"Additionally, Community Promoters will be provided with a kit that will enhance medical response at the community level," she said.

Waiguru said they aso agreed that the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) be reformed to a Social Health Insurance Fund.

Kakamega Deputy Governor Ayub Savula said the IPAs framework on maintenance and service of specialised medical equipment was timely as most counties held on dysfunctional equipment.

[Antony Gitonga, Robert Amalemba and Amos Kiarie]

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