Senate team probes bribery, poor services claims at Vihiga referral hospital

Senate Health Committee chairman Jackson Mandago addressing health experts among them senior staff of Vihiga County government when the committee visited the county recently. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

Complaints of poor services and claims of corruption by health workers have, in the last few months, rocked health facilities around Vihiga County.

Patients seeking treatment in different health facilities have lamented being denied services. Some have claimed they are being asked to pay the health workers before any service is offered with the most mentioned among the facilities being Vihiga County Referral Hospital (VCRH).

According to the complaints from several patients, a group of workers had stationed themselves at the county's top facility with the aim of extorting money.

This prompted the Senate Standing Committee on Health to visit the county on Tuesday on a fact-finding mission.

Led by its chairperson who is also Uasin Gishu Senator Jackson Mandago, the committee camped at Vihiga County Referral Hospital for hours and held talks with county health officials.

Need to evaluate 

Mandago noted that there was a need to evaluate all public health facilities to establish if they qualify for the status bequeathed to them.

The meeting was necessitated by a statement sought on the floor of the Senate by Vihiga Senator Godfrey Osotsi seeking to know matters of operations at the county referral hospital.

On Tuesday, the Senate sought answers on day-to-day operations at the referral hospital, revenue collection, management and staff matter, and stocking of pharmaceutical and nonpharmaceutical products.

"We have gone around as a committee to oversee the issues within the health facility to ascertain how services are being done," Mandago said.

Another issue that arose during the meeting was the delayed payment of salaries of health workers by the county government.

A month ago, medics in Vihiga joined their counterparts in Kisumu and Nyamira to down tools protesting salary delays.

During the Senate meeting, medics complained that their employer was not remitting statutory deductions.

 Allowing quacks 

The referral hospital has been in the limelight for allowing quacks and fake doctors to operate within their premises.

On September 26, 2022, a fake doctor was arrested at the facility after a patient raised an alarm. 

The suspect Clinton Motara was arrested and arraigned at Vihiga Law Court where he pleaded guilty to the charges.

Another big issue reported during the committee meeting was the lack of an automated revenue collection system which allegedly has led to the loss of funds.

All payments at the hospital are supposed to be made in the accounts office, but the patients said some health workers demand to be paid directly before serving them.

Vihiga Deputy Governor Wilberforce Kitiezo said their administration would strive to improve the health services at the facility.