Fresh row erupts over medical kit deal

Tuesday, November 15th, 2022 06:40 | By
Council of Governors (COG) chairperson Anne Waiguru
Council of Governors (COG) chairperson Anne Waiguru. PHOTO/Courtesy.

The controversial Sh63 billion Managed Equipment Service (MES) is still at the centre of a row between the National government and the devolved units.

It has emerged that although the medical equipment scheme lease agreement has been extended for another three years following the seven-year contract lapse, counties are still paying for the services without signing new contracts.

This is after CoG told a parliamentary committee that even though the senators have allocated Sh5.2 billion to fund the scheme, the devolved units have not signed for the extension of the lease agreement.

The lawmakers have allocated the funds under the County Government Additional Allocation Bill which is currently before the House for consideration and passage.

Quality care

The MES project was launched for a seven-year lease programme.

Under the project, the national government equipped at least two hospitals in each County and four National Referral hospitals with outsourced specialised state-of-the-art medical equipment to support the devolution of equitable, accessible, affordable and quality health care.

Under the MES arrangement, equipment manufacturers were outsourced to supply, install, train users, and provide maintenance, repair and replacement services for the specialised medical equipment for the duration of the MES contract.

Appearing before the Senate Budget and Finance Committee chaired by Mandera lawmaker Ali Roba, Council of Governors (CoG) Vice chair Ahmed Abdullahi (Wajir) said that no devolved unit had contracted for the extension.

Abdullahi told the committee that although the Council has not taken a position on MES, some 26 counties had expressed interest in extension of the lease agreement.

During a full council meeting on December 20, 2021, a MES review committee proposed a three-year extension.

“There is no county that has contracted for the extension of the lease. CoG has not taken a position on this but we are aware that some 26 counties have expressed the desire to extend,” said Abdullahi.

Roba questioned the governors about how much was agreed would be deducted from the county governments and what was the content of the lease agreement.

Service delivery

Roba, who served as the Mandera Governor for ten years, said that although most of the equipment supplied to the health facilities at the counties, an assessment was not carried out as the needs of the devolved units.

“How much was agreed to be deducted from the counties to fund MES? What was the content of the lease agreement?” posed Roba.

However, Abdullahi further explained to the committee that the way the lease agreement was pitched was not to affect what is in the equitable share.

“The machines are in our hospitals using them with all the difficulties. Those are questions for new schemes. Now that the machines are there, removing the Sh5.2 billion from this Bill will affect service delivery; those are issues we can process. We don’t want to disrupt service delivery, but we will have to look at these questions hard and would be wiser for any new schemes,” said Abdullahi.

He said the Sh5.2 billion should be retained in the county government’s additional allocation bill given that the equipment are currently in hospitals.

Mombasa Governor Abdulswamad Shariff told the committee that each county has unique issues that can be addressed by MES, adding that it was wrong to just equip hospitals without a need for analysis.

The Mombasa county chief said that while some equipment were supplied to the Coast General Hospital, there are other machines that they would have required apart from the ones that were issued.

“There was no need for analysis done before the supply of these medical equipment. Every county has unique issues. For us in Mombasa, we would require something different from what was provided to us,” said Sharrif.

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