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Ministry seeks additional Sh3.6b in budget for disease war, KMTC

 When Public Health PS Mary Muthoni (right ) appeared before the National Assembly's Health Committee at the Parliament buildings on May 21, 2024. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

The Department of Public Health has proposed an additional Sh3.6 billion to implement ongoing major projects under the 2023/24 supplementary budget.

The Principal Secretary in the Department of Public Health, Mary Muthoni, said the allocation of the money would enable the smooth operation of services.

Among the major projects are funding for Tuberculosis and malaria programmes.

Presenting the request to the National Assembly Health Committee, Muthoni said that although TB and malaria programmess are heavily donor-funded, Kenya is expected to provide counterpart financing.

Counterpart funding for TB includes commodities required at Sh339 million and Sh164 million for pending bills.

“As per the grant agreement, the country is required to provide counterpart financing to complement Global Fund resources for the disease programme,” said Muthoni.

The state department is also pleading with The National Treasury to allocate Sh500 million for the operationalisation of 21 Kenya Medical Training Colleges (KMTC) as per a presidential directive.

Under the 2024/25 budget estimates, KMTC had requested Sh5.2 billion, an amount that has been reduced by The National Treasury to Sh4.5 billion. KMTC Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dr. Kelly Oluoch pleaded with the committee to reinstate the allocation, saying failure to do so will affect the recruitment of lecturers and the construction of stalled structures.

“The budget cut of Sh740 million will affect the recruitment of personnel. This means we shall have to forego operations and maintenance to be able to pay salaries,” said Oluoch.

In defense of the budget allocation for KMTC, Muthoni said human resources are key, and therefore there is a need to train more professionals to handle the growing demand for healthcare.

“The Ministry of Health has not been able to employ personnel since 2016 and some cadres since 2014. We have a huge human resource gap,” Muthoni told the Pukose-led committee.

The PS added, “Recruitment of additional teaching staff at KMTC is key because of the expansion that has happened in the recent past. If we do not continue to train enough staff to retain for our markets, we may end up being constrained, and therefore lead to numerous industrial actions that have affected us in the past.”

Budget allocation for the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Council (KMPDC) was also scrapped in estimates presented by The National Treasury. The council had requested Sh495 million. Failure to allocate the council, according to its CEO Dr. David Kariuki, may result in disruption in salary payment for employees.

Additionally, Sh300 million is required to complete and operationalize phase one of the Kenya Nuclear Regulatory Authority.

As Kenya Kwanza backs the implementation of promotive and preventive health, Muthoni defended an allocation of Sh130 million for dietetics improvement in the country.

The allocation, according to the PS, will cover investment in capacities to support the prevention of malnutrition and sustained investment for the procurement of nutritional supplements. Additionally, the allocation for dietetics improvement is to cater for the management of severe and moderate forms of malnutrition.

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