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Kisumu to hand its referral hospital to national government

The County government of Kisumu plans to hand over the management of the historic Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital (JOOTRH) to the national government to enhance service delivery.

Formerly known as Russia Hospital, the facility which opened its doors in 1969 has witnessed a strain on its facilities given the huge population within the catchment area.

With dwindling finances and a slash on donor funds and grants, the County government of Kisumu has run into difficulties to shoulder the burden of running the facility.

Kisumu Deputy Governor Dr. Mathews Owili said the facility serves over seven counties in the lake region but the funds allocated to Kisumu to operate it were inadequate.

Appearing before the Senate Committee on Health sitting in Kisumu, Dr. Owili said time has come to elevate the facility to level 6 to be managed by the Ministry of Health for effective service delivery.

Owili told the committee that the move was necessary to unlock funds for the facility which is in the same league with Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) and Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital.

The county government, he said, fronted the proposal to the Ministry last year and was hoping the takeover to be fast tracked.

His sentiments were echoed by Kisumu County Assembly Health Committee Chairman Vincent Jagongo who said it was unfair for Kisumu to shoulder the burden of running the facility which benefits over seven other counties in the area.

The Senate Health Committee Chairman Jackson Mandago said the sentiments by the county government of Kisumu were genuine adding that the Senate will take up the matter.

“I am in agreement with the upgrading of this facility given its geographical location and the number of patients trooping in from different counties,” he said.

This, he said was necessary to equip the facility which is also a training centre for doctors to build capacity for the country’s health workforce.

“Since this proposal is already before the ministry of health, our goal as a committee is to find out why it has not been acted upon,” he said.

JOOTRH Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dr. George Rae said funds allocated to the facility have continued to drop over the years dealing a blow to service delivery.

The county government transfers dropped to Sh. 491 million in 2022-2023 financial year.

This, he said was a drop in the ocean for a facility that serves the same population as Kenyatta National Hospital and Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital which receive annual transfers and grants of Sh. 15 billion and Sh. 12 billion respectively.

NHIF, he added owes the facility Sh. 130 million further affecting service delivery.

The Senate committee which is conducting an inspection tour of county referral hospitals in Western and Nyanza visited JOOTRH and Ahero County Hospital in Kisumu.

By Chris Mahandara

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