The Star (Kenya) - - Voices -

Rev­e­la­tions that the min­istry of Health might have lost bil­lions of shillings to graft ex­plain the sad state of af­fairs in pub­lic health in­sti­tu­tions at the county and na­tional lev­els across the coun­try. First, af­ter the Busi­ness Daily news­pa­per broke the story, mak­ing pub­lic the in­terim au­dit report point­ing to a pos­si­ble loss of Sh5.3 bil­lion, op­po­si­tion leader Raila Odinga weighed in, ex­plain­ing the shady pro­cure­ment, ten­der­ing and the names in­volved.

A few days later, ANC party leader Musalia Mu­davadi hinted to yet an­other pos­si­ble loss of a whop­ping Sh35 bil­lion meant for equip­ping the de­volved med­i­cal fa­cil­i­ties for them to of­fer spe­cialised med­i­ca­tion.

This sit­u­a­tion, where a few filthy rich in­di­vid­u­als steal from the sick, is not only caus­ing bad health in the na­tion, it is also a chronic bug in the min­istry of Health.

Im­pro­pri­eties in man­age­ment of pub­lic funds in the min­istry ul­ti­mately end up hurt­ing health­care across the coun­try. When it is not the doc­tors or nurses strik­ing be­cause of de­lays in re­mu­ner­a­tion, it is be­cause the hos­pi­tals are un­der­equipped. We have heard of doc­tors and nurses strike in Mom­basa, Machakos, Bu­sia, Nairobi and Kakamega, among other coun­ties.

Early this year, Kakamega res­i­dents raised ques­tions about the de­te­ri­o­rat­ing health stan­dards in the county due to im­pro­pri­ety in man­age­ment and health­care de­liv­ery in lo­cal hos­pi­tals. Some will re­mem­ber pic­tures of pa­tients sleep­ing on car­tons placed on floors at the Kakamega Gen­eral Hospi­tal.

There were calls for the min­istry of Health and the county govern­ment of Kakamega to up­grade the hos­pi­tals, but noth­ing much has hap­pened since. The peo­ple of Kakamega have been push­ing for the open­ing of the ma­ter­nity wings, pro­vi­sion of lab­o­ra­tory ser­vices and post­ing of a clin­i­cal of­fi­cer, if not a med­i­cal of­fi­cer, to all county health fa­cil­i­ties . We now know why this has re­mained a pipe dream. Cor­rup­tion.

It is a dis­ser­vice to have med­i­cal fa­cil­i­ties at the county level run by nurses who are not qual­i­fied to di­ag­nose and pre­scribe med­i­ca­tion. Since the trans­fer of the health func­tion to the coun­ties un­der the new dis­pen­sa­tion, a lot seems to be go­ing out of con­trol. Not just at the Kakamega Gen­eral Hospi­tal but in many hos­pi­tals across the coun­try.

The min­istry of Health ur­gently needs to relook at the griev­ances the pub­lic has raised in re­gard to staff short­age, in­ef­fi­ciency and ap­a­thy among the staff in var­i­ous hos­pi­tals. All these fac­tors, com­pounded, have neg­a­tively af­fected ef­fi­ciency. They must be ad­dressed as soon as pos­si­ble.

The Ethics and Anti-Cor­rup­tion Com­mis­sion was es­tab­lished to in­ves­ti­gate and pros­e­cute those in­volved in mis­ap­pro­pri­a­tion of funds and con­tra­ven­tion of Chap­ter Six of the Con­sti­tu­tion.

Pres­i­dent Uhuru Keny­atta re­cently put the lead­er­ship of this com­mis­sion on the spot at the Anti-cor­rup­tion Sum­mit at State House, Nairobi. He chal­lenged them, to­gether with the po­lice, the At­tor­ney Gen­eral and the ju­di­ciary, to ex­plain why peo­ple ac­cused of cor­rup­tion are not be­ing charged and jailed.

Mr Pres­i­dent, if those in charge of these of­fices are not will­ing to work, there are many Kenyans of good­will out here who are able to serve in these po­si­tions.

In­stead of whin­ing and com­plain­ing over in­ac­tion, show them the door and bring on board those who will work to end cor­rup­tion. The first to be shown the door in this re­gard should be the top bosses at the Health min­istry, start­ing with CS Cleopa Mailu and his PS Ni­cholas Muraguri, for abet­ting graft. The buck stops with the lead­er­ship and if it fails, they can­not be blam­ing their ju­niors when things don’t work. The time has come when lead­ers must take full re­spon­si­bil­ity for the de­te­ri­o­rat­ing health stan­dards in this coun­try.


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