The Siaya County Health Chief Executive (CEC), Mr Dismas Wakla, has clarified that the recently instituted operational changes on outpatient services in the public hospitals in the county are aimed at improving service delivery.
Wakla defended the move by the management of the facilities to institute changes that enhances both efficiency and accountability at the hospitals.
The statement issued by Wakla comes days after the county government of Siaya received a backlash from members of public through social media for allegedly making services at public health facilities unaffordable.
At Bondo Sub-County Hospital, for example, some members of the public led by youth leaders, Khamisi Khamisi and Frank Warinda, have threatened to petition the County Assembly to force the Health Ministry to rescind the changes in a position which has been backed by West Asembo Member of the County Assembly (MCA), Auma Akuno.
“We are going to write a letter to the County Assembly to look at what is happening in Bondo Hospital. Patients are forced to buy gloves and syringes before being treated. The treatment charges are also exorbitant. It is like this hospital has been turned into a private health facility,” said Warinda.
“The situation in Bondo is quite unacceptable. The facility helps many poor people and if the executive wants to turn health services into a cash cow then I have to bring it to the alert of the County Assembly for immediate action,” added Akuno.
Wakla stated that there are a few charges in the hospitals that have been revised upwards to align them to the Finance Act, implying that patients must dig deeper into their pockets to access health service in public facilities.
A spot check by KNA at Bondo Sub-County Hospital revealed that while consultation fee remained free in the various departments, charges displayed on the walls at the outpatients, orthopedic, laboratory and x-ray departments had been revised upwards between 10 to and 30 per cent.
The Health CEC also explained that following the changes patients will be required to pay before getting any service unless it is a medical emergency, adding that previously, patients failed to honor their payment agreements after receiving treatment even on cases which are not classified as medical emergencies.
“It should be remembered that hospital charges are a source of revenue to the county government and the same have been included in the budget as revenue. Failing to collect revenue at hospitals will lead to budget deficits. Consequently, insisting on payment before service is a normal practice, especially after disputes emerged on payment issues,” he stated.
“All hospitals across the county receives regular supply of none pharmaceutical commodities but the challenge is how they are used and lack of records for their use, leading to perennials shortages. To remedy this operational anomaly, the hospitals have introduced a system to help them account for these commodities.” Wakla said.
By Brian Ondeng’