Sort out Afya House graft once and for all

Friday, September 25th, 2020 00:00 | By
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Health ministry headquarters in Nairobi. Photo/PD/FILE

The Ministry of Health has been ailing for a long time. An entrenched and thriving culture of impunity at Afya House has made it the home of multi-billion-shilling scandals involving high-profile officials and well-heeled tenderpreneurs. 

What is baffling is the fact there seems to be no deterrence as public officials continue to exploit programmes meant to deliver health services to the weak and vulnerable.  

The situation in the counties where individuals have been siphoning cash meant to buy drugs through dubious tendering is worse.

Indeed, an alarmed group of civil society organisations has demanded the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations start investigations into the myriad scandals that have rocked the ministry since 2013.

Parliament is currently investigating the Corona funds theft claims at the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority, the Sh63 billion Managed Equipment Services and manipulation of systems to facilitate misappropriation of donor funds channelled to the ministry to combat various diseases. The list of scandals at the ministry is embarrassingly long.

In February, last year, investigators said the National Hospital Insurance Fund lost more than Sh10 billion in false medical claims.

And nearly Sh1 billion was stolen in fictitious transactions, irregular award of tenders and manipulation of systems at the national health insurer in 2018.

Moreover, in October 2016, an audit revealed that Sh5.2 billion was misappropriated.

It was revealed that money, including funds meant to procure sanitary pads for students, was diverted. 

Today, Kemsa stores are holding dead stock of Covid supplies worth Sh6.2 billion due to questionable decisions by procurement authorities, probably motivated by corruption.

The major outcome of the grand corruption in the sector is that it negatively impacts realisation of access to health for all goal.

It also robs the country of critical funds meant to ensure availability of vaccines for children, drugs for HIV/Aids patients and others. 

We know graft at Afya House is under probe by various agencies and is even the subject of court cases.

However, there is no evidence investigations touching on huge scandals have yielded fruit.

Not even much publicised probes by MPs have come up with measures to tame perennial theft.

This is why Kenyans are now saying ‘enough is enough’ and demanding concrete action against perpetrators of graft at Afya House. 

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