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Corruption blamed for poor state of health

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

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