Corruption within the Health sector has been identified as a leading impediment in the implementation of the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in the country.
Participants at the 3rd UHC conference which kicked off in Kisumu on Wednesday lamented over rampant corruption in the health system.
The participants particularly from the donor community said plunder of funds allocated to the sector was to blame for inefficiency, shortage of medical personnel and lack of pharmaceuticals and non-pharmaceuticals at public health facilities.
This, they said continues to deal a blow to various reforms being undertaken in the sector.
The UHC program which is among President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big Four agenda they said shall remain a mirage if corruption is not stamped out.
The USAID Country Mission Director, Mark Meassick said it was unfortunate that despite the country receiving billions of shillings from the donor community to support the health sector, the same was being used to line individuals pockets.
The United States of America government through USAID, he said,remains a key health partner to Kenya but was concerned at the manner in which the funds were being utilized.
He disclosed that USAID supports the health sector in the country to a tune of $500 million annually adding that the amount coupled with the government’s allocation and other donor support was capable of transforming the sector if prudently used.
Meassick said the concerns raised within the health systems must be addressed if the UHC program is to be realized.
Donor funding, he said continues to dwindle adding that there was urgent need for the government to tame corruption and look for alternative ways to sustain the sector.
“The money we give to Kenya is a gift from the American people but when I look around we are becoming fatigued,” he said.
He challenged the government to explore ways of getting economic value through health sector to augment support from the donor community.
“In 2050 the population of Kenya is expected to hit 105 million. Are we prepared to deal with this figure?” he asked.
His sentiments were echoed by Kenya Healthcare Federation (KHF) Chairman, Dr. Amit Thakker who rooted for slaying of the dragon of corruption to save the health sector.
Dr. Thakker said corruption in procurement of medical supplies had affected availability of the commodities in counties leading to patients suffering.
Drugs meant for public hospital, he added find their way on shelves of privately owned pharmacies leaving patients suffering.
He challenged the national and county governments to step up the war on graft and streamline health system to make UHC work.
The UHC conference which ends on Friday brings together health sector stakeholders from across the country to take stock on the implementation of UHC.
UHC was officially launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta in December last year.
It is being piloted in Kisumu, Machakos, Nyeri and Isiolo Counties.
The findings from the four counties shall be used to help the government roll out the program nationally.
By Chris Mahandara