A Senate Health Committee has embarked on an inspection tour of health facilities in the counties to audit the Sh.38 million managed Medical Equipment Services (MES).
Recently the senate formed an ad hoc committee to investigate and establish the mystery surrounding tendering of the equipment.
The MES was procured in 2015 by the Ministry of Health on behalf of the 47 devolved units to supply and equip two hospitals in every county with high-tech machines to manage chronic diseases like cancer and diabetes.
The contract entailed leasing of assorted medical equipment including renal, laboratory, ICU, radiology and theatre equipment to the selected hospitals for a seven-year period. It also included installation of the equipment and training of technical staff.
The senate ad hock committee chaired by Isiolo senator, Fatuma Dhullo has already visited hospitals in Isiolo, Meru and Kilifi counties to check on the status of the medical equipment scheme.
“We might not be able to tour all the 47 counties but definitely we will visit a good number of them to find out if all that is envisaged in the health contract is being done,” she said.
“The committee is in possession of a list of all the equipment the counties were to receive from the suppliers and we are counter-checking whether they have been delivered, installed and functional,” added she.
She promised that her committee will soon come up with a comprehensive report on the status of the equipment that she said has caused debate, on whether the counties should have been given the money and purchase the equipment instead of leasing.
The committee members toured the Coast Referral and Teaching Hospital which serves the counties of Mombasa, Kilifi, Kwale, Taita Taveta, Lamu and Tana River.
On hand to receive the visiting senators were Mombasa County Executive for Health, Hazel Koitaba, Chief Health Officer, Dr. Khadijah Shikelly and the hospital’s chief administrator Dr. Iqbal Kandwalla.
Dhullo told the press in Mombasa Saturday that what is emerging from their visits is that the devolved units were paying for assorted specialized medical equipment that was not confirmed to have been delivered.
She said some counties were unable to deliver quality care to patients and fully realize the benefits of the installed medical equipment due to frequent power outages.
“The need for power is growing in the counties and with the specialized medical equipment, health facilities cannot afford power outages and interruptions,” she said.
Bungoma senator and the vice chairman of the ad hoc committee, Moses Wetang’ula said it is emerging that nobody wanted to know the specific needs of the devolved units and that the equipment were indiscriminately offloaded.
“What happened in the end is that some counties are not utilizing the specialized equipment as they lack technicians to operate them or the budget to run them,” he said, adding that they are out in the field to find out whether Kenyans are getting value for their money.
“All the counties regardless of sizes are forced to pay Sh.200 million per annum for the equipment despite some being unused which is not fair because for instance you can’t compare Nairobi and Lamu,” said the senator.
However, Mombasa Health Executive spoke highly of the state-of-the-art medical equipment, saying the initiative has brought specialized healthcare services closer to the people.
Koitaba said the medical equipment have resulted in increased revenue for the 600 bed capacity referral hospital with revenues from special services now standing at Sh41 million up from Sh14 million in 2017.
“We also don’t have the issue of underutilization of the equipment because we have 40 specialist doctors and we are on course to providing treatment for major health conditions in the region,” she said.
By Hussein Abdullahi