What you need to know:
- The drafters of the 2010 Constitution believed that medical services would be better and more widely accessible if managed at the county level.
- Since 2013, the Jubilee government has tried its best to keep up with the sector’s demands but couldn’t.
The latest Sunday Nation ran an expose about how Sh63 billion meant for Managed Equipment Services (MES) was wasted or looted. The matter is even more complicated in that a parliamentary committee formed to trace the money could not explain how the money was lost, who stole it, etc.
Ten years after the health sector was devolved, it is chaos all round. The drafters of the 2010 Constitution believed that medical services would be better and more widely accessible if managed at the county level than by the national government. Admittedly, the idea was noble, but the creation of a substantive healthcare management system in the counties was poorly executed.
Since 2013, the Jubilee government has tried its best to keep up with the sector’s demands but couldn’t. First, the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) has not lived up to expectations. The agency, which is supposed to give value to registered members’ contributions, is drowning in scandals that have robbed taxpayers of billions of shillings.
Secondly, there is the scandal of the mobile clinic project, which never helped the common man. The idea of procuring expensive containers from China was appealing because of its presumed viability. But investigations by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) unearthed procurement malpractice.
Lastly, the Senate has the mandate to oversee and defend devolution. But the ‘Upper House’ has failed to harmonise the national and county governments as regards healthcare services. A good example is the row over distribution of the Global Fund monies.
The transition to a devolved health sector is under threat. Reports of related scandals are bungled and skewed, seemingly in a bid to make them irrelevant and, hence, prove their recommendations not worth pursuing. Turning a deaf ear to health matters only serves to endanger the voters’ socioeconomic wellbeing.
I beg the question: Instead of shouting themselves hoarse about dynasties versus hustlers in the 2022 General Election, why can’t politicians be sincere and shout even louder to bring reliable healthcare to the people?
Oluchina Antony, Uasin Gishu
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Freshly into his second term, President Uhuru Kenyatta listed four pillars of development that would form the basis of his legacy: Universal health coverage (UHC), food security, affordable housing and manufacturing.
However, almost three years later, the “Big Four Agenda” projects are struggling. For instance, constant strikes by health workers are consigning UHC, which was launched in 2018, to the intensive care unit (ICU). This is mainly because health is devolved.
Hinda Edwin, Migori