President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto are told how intensive care equipment works by director of medical services Nicholas Muraguri (left) on February 6, 2015. It was during the signing of contracts to equip hospitals. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE |
By- JOHN NGIRACHU
County bosses say they had not been consulted in its conception.
Wrangling between the national and county governments could scuttle the Sh38 billion health plan launched on Friday.
Governors snubbed the function presided over by President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House, Nairobi. Contracts to equip the hospitals were signed.
At least two hospitals in each of the 47 counties should, by the end of May, have intensive care units, cancer diagnosis equipment and treatment, dialysis machines among others.
It is understood that the county bosses were angry at the Health Ministry for not furnishing them with details of the project.
They are also worried that because the bulk of the health services are devolved, they would be blamed if the project failed.
Council of Governors chairman Isaac Ruto (Bomet), Health Committee chairman Jack Ranguma (Kisumu) and Human Resources and Labour and Social Welfare chairman James Ongwae (Kisii) had been invited for the event.
Asked about it, President Kenyatta said governors were on board.
“I think people are exaggerating the situation. Everybody wants to see Kenyans get good healthcare,” he said.
Health Cabinet Secretary James Macharia said a misunderstanding between the two levels of government could have arisen in the latter stages of the project.
“To some extent, it is a misrepresentation because we could not go this far without the input of governors. We met all of them in Naivasha some time last year and they supported it,” Mr Macharia said.
He said county executives underwent training and the concept was explained to them.
Separately, Bungoma Governor Kenneth Lusaka attributed the failure of the county bosses to attend the function to a communication breakdown.
“Most of us were not informed about the function,” he said.
Mr Ruto could not be reached for comment. He authored a letter to his colleagues on Thursday advising them against attending the State House meeting.
“As a council, we decided that we shall not participate in the signing due to some unanswered questions,” he wrote.
It is believed that governors preferred to handle the procurement themselves.
Mr Ruto had said their concerns were on whether the equipment provided was bought or had been leased.
The government has signed contracts with five multinational companies for the supply, installation, operation and maintenance of the equipment.
Mindray Biomedical from China will supply the theatre equipment, Esteem from India the devices, equipment and consumables for theatres, Belico SRL from Italy the dialysis machines, Philips from the Netherlands the Intensive Care Units and General Electric from the US the radiology machines.
The cancer treatment equipment will cost Sh21.8 billion, the renal ones Sh2.2 billion, the ICU equipment Sh3.3 billion, the theatres Sh12 billion and the laboratory equipment — which will be tendered for later — Sh2.7 billion.
This would ease the patient load on Kenyatta National Hospital and Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital, the only public hospitals capable of handling cancer and kidney problems.
Waiting time for patients suffering from these diseases can be as long as a year. Mr Macharia said the machines would be leased.
This means the supplier installs, operates, maintains and replaces the machine if necessary. The companies would also be paying the operators.
“The good thing is that we are buying the service, not the machines. If a supplier brings machines but there is no manpower, we shall not be obligated to pay for that service,” the CS said.
He said some of the equipment can use solar power and because there are very few oncologists in Kenya, about nine centres of excellence manned by specialists would be set up.
The internet interface on the equipment would link the hospitals with the specialists who would view images sent by the workers on the ground in real time and prescribe treatment for the patients.