Medical equipment lying idle in 13 hospitals seven years later: AMEK

Millicent Aloo

Millicent Aloo, Association of Medical Engineering of Kenya (AMEK) Secretary General.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Thirteen  public hospitals that benefited from the Managed Equipment Services (MES) project were unable to utilize their equipment, analysis report by the Association of Medical Engineering of Kenya (AMEK) shows.

According to AMEK, the equipment are still lying idle due to a lack of personnel, a lack of water in the theatre, a lack of 3-phase power for Xray machines, and an incomplete hospital building.

In Garsen sub-county hospital, the building is incomplete while the fixed digital X-ray machines at the Keroka sub-county hospital, Kehancha sub-county hospital, and Tharaka sub-county hospital are yet to be utilized due to lack of phase three power.

The report adds that hospitals are relying on portable x-ray machines that can run on single-phase power.

Also, the operating room at Kamwosor sub-county hospital doesn't have clean water, and other hospitals like Kacheliba sub-county hospital, Bura sub-county hospital, Baragoi sub-county hospital, and Eldas sub-county hospital don't have enough people to run the machines.

"The CoG should reach out to the 13 hospitals that aren't using the equipment and provide support where it's needed, because why would a county not use equipment for six years, so to speak, when other counties are benefiting and asking for more?" AMEK Secretary General Millicent Aloo said.

 "The biomedical engineers are the ones taking care of the equipment from the inception, installation, training, preventive maintenance, calibration, decommissioning, so we have an upper hand in knowing whether the equipment is supporting the country or not," Aloo added.

The MES Project is a seven-year contract that provides selected hospitals with sustainable access to and use of state-of-the-art medical equipment in exchange for a fixed fee paid to the MES Contractors.

The renal, laboratory, ICU radiology, and theatre equipment were leased to at least two level 4 hospitals in each of the 47 counties and Sh200 million has been paid regardless of which equipment they got and whether they are working or not.

For the seven-year contract that ended on February 5, 2022, the counties paid $470 million (Sh53 billion), paid quarterly.

Through the project, 115 hospitals have 219 fully equipped operating rooms, and 118 hospitals have 120 pieces of sterilization equipment and surgical sets.

Further 54 hospitals are fully equipped with dialysis centers, with a total of 305 dialysis stations.

The project also equipped 14 hospitals with fully equipped ICUs, with a total of 88 ICUs and 44 HDU beds.

98 hospitals were equipped with diagnostic imaging units involving

According to the analysis by AMEK, more than 3.8 million patients have benefited from X-ray exposures, 1.7 million from ultrasound scans, and 628,821 patients from theatre operations courtesy of the project.

AMEK is seeking the Council of Governors to renew the MES project contract for the stipulated period of five years.

“We are aware that the initial agreement was for three years, but going by the lifespan of the equipment, it can be elongated as long as the equipment are still in good working order," the SG added

In February, governors agreed to extend the contract on the condition that, together with the Ministry of Health, they would review the budget to address "equity concerns’.

 The county chiefs also demanded contractors to do everything they agreed to do in each contract.

Some governors had earlier indicated that they would not extend the contract, saying they had paid more money for the equipment. The governors had evaluated three options before agreeing to extend the deal.