Senators raise concern over Sh63b medical kit lying idle
Fresh controversy has stoked the Sh63 billion Medical Equipment Services (MES) after it emerged that the leased equipment supplied to 30 hospitals is either lying idle or dysfunctional.
In some counties, according to documents tabled in the Senate, the MES equipment have not been commissioned nor tested yet they are paying uniformly alongside others devolved units at exorbitantly high prices.
At the same time, it has also surfaced that the Health ministry did not carry out any needs assessment on personnel before they deployed the equipment to the 47 counties.
Appearing before the ad hoc committee of the Senate inquiring into the Sh63 billion MES programme, Health Cabinet secretary Sicily Kariuki was at pains to explain why Kenyans are paying for services that are not being provided.
“Why are counties paying for what they are not even consuming, why the hurry in paying this equipment, they have not been commissioned, tested or helped anyone, why are we paying?” Nominated Senator Mary Seneta shot the first salvo at the CS.
“What baffles me, is that it is not in one county but in 27 of them, MES project is not working, but then, why are we paying?” Seneta added.
“What are you (CS) paying, why can’t you use the money being wasted in this scheme to deploy personnel to counties or do something else that will help our devolved units,” she said.
The documents by the ministry details that some 21 hospitals where the equipment was “dumped” are still unused and thus remained non-commissioned.
For example, in Homa Bay and Wajir counties the MES equipment is not in use because there is no radiologist nor anesthetist.
But in her defense, Kariuki refuted the senators’ claims saying it was not true that all these equipment were idle because of lack of personnel.
She said in Bondo (Siaya), Garsen (Tana River), Gucha (Kisii), Kacheliba (West Pokot), Makindu (Mombasa), Endebess (Trans Nzoia) and Keroka (Nyamira) the digital general X-ray units have been installed in hospitals and are ready to offer services, but electricity is not adequate.
“I want to persuade the committee, that the equipment was not dumped in the counties, what I know is that the discussion was a bit laboured, with each county saying we need this and we don’t need that,” she told the Isiolo Senator Fatuma Dullo-led committee yesterday.
“The fact that there was some assessment done in 2008-2014, its enough evidence that there was a need and it’s documented,” the CS said.
However, Nominated Senator Judith Pareno differed insisting counties were never consulted as in some case, the ministry dumped two or three CT scans, despite the county government having previously bought one.
Dullo sought to know from the CS whether her ministry had done any interventions to make sure the equipment is running.
Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula wondered what kind of consultation happened between the ministry and the county governments when they delivered equipment to a facility that does not even have a basic nurse to give support service.
“Madam Cabinet Secretary, whom did you consult and for you to say you consulted? he asked.
“As far as Human Resource is concerned, the Ministry of Health was not to deploy personnel,” Wetang’ula, who doubles up as the committee vice chairperson said.
Ironically, as part of the need assessment documents tabled before the committee, the ministry had identified in its report the critical challenges in the provision of personnel.
Meanwhile, contrary to proposals by the Council of Governors chairman Wycliffe Oparanya that the county governments were not involved in the procurement of the leased medical equipment, it has emerged that some county chiefs actually requested for the machines.
Oparanya, who is also the Kakamega Governor is among tens of county chiefs who have requested for the specialised equipment.
Others are Francis Kimemia (Nyandarua), Kiraitu Murungi (Meru), Ferdinand Waititu (Kiambu), Ali Roba (Mandera) and Granton Samboja (Taita Taveta).