Who are the beneficiaries of Covid-19 payouts?

Heath Principal Secretary Susan Mochache. Her ministry is under pressure to account for the use of money meant to aid the fight against coronavirus. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • The government has received over Sh8 billion from different organisations in cash and kind to bolster its efforts in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Ms Mochache said that the deployment of resources by the ministry was informed by priorities identified by the Covid-19 task force.

During the daily Covid-19 update on April 21, Health Chief Administrative Secretary Mercy Mwangangi announced that mobile service provider Safaricom was going to support healthcare workers with a free communication package - comprising data and airtime - for three months.

She made this disclosure while announcing that Safaricom was giving Sh10 million for the purchase of thermal scanners for Covid-19 screening.

“Safaricom is also considering supporting our healthcare workers with a free communication package that will include three months of internet bundles and airtime to ease their work,” Dr Mwangangi said.

Indeed, Safaricom has offered 5,500 frontline health workers support to call and use the internet for the next three months to help the fight against the Covid -19 pandemic. The offer comprises 195 terabits of data, 10 million voice call minutes and 33 million SMSs

However, figures tabled by Health Principal Secretary Susan Mochache before the National Assembly Health Committee on amount of money that the government has so far received from donors and how it has been spent highlighted a Sh2 million spend on airtime.

It was not lost on the MPs that the two Ministry of Health officials had given contradictory information.

STUDENT UPKEEP

Ms Mochache said that the airtime money, which was part of the Sh1 billion second allocation from the government, was spent on 500 healthcare workers at Sh4,000 per month.

This means that in the coming three months, the government could spend Sh6 million of airtime on the 500 health workers.

If the money is already allocated for that vote, questions are being raised as to what happens to the Safaricom gift package to the healthcare workers for the next three months.

The figures tabled in Parliament show that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has received Sh10 million to “facilitate” Kenyan students in Wuhan, the Chinese city believed to have been the epicentre of the novel coronavirus, and which was put into lockdown for the better part of the first quarter of this year.

What is not clear is the kind of facilitation that the ministry is giving to the students. One of the students - who was in Wuhan and has since come back to the country - told the Sunday Nation that he did not receive even a penny from the government for upkeep or any other use.

“We were told to make a list of the names of all the students, as the government would be sending money for upkeep. But up until March 19, when I came back to the country, I had not received a penny,” said the student.

Earlier, the government had committed to disburse Sh1.3 million for student upkeep.

DONOR FUNDING

Government Spokesman Cyrus Oguna said 100 Kenyans are currently living in Wuhan, with 91 of them being students. The other nine are artistes.

"We are aware there are two expectant Kenyans... they have been receiving medical services. They have the necessary support and are in good health," Col (rtd) Oguna said.

If the government disbursed Sh1.3 million, what happened to Sh8.7 million out of the Sh10 million allocated by the government to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs?

The government has received over Sh8 billion from different organisations in cash and kind to bolster its efforts in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Health PS said that the World Bank has given the largest funding — Sh6 billion — followed by the government, which has so far allocated Sh1.3 billion.

The Global Fund has allocated Sh593 million for Covid-19 while the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisations (Gavi) has reallocated Sh184 million towards addressing gaps in their regulations.

Ms Mochache indicated that so far the ministry has not received any support from the Covid-19 Fund Board (comprising the private sector and the government) despite a request for funding to acquire private protective, laboratory and testing and communications equipment.

Ms Mochache said that the deployment of resources by the ministry was informed by priorities identified by the task force, against resource needs within the budget and the resources available.

STRIKE THREAT

The documents tabled before the committee chaired by Murang'a Woman Representative Sabina Chege indicate that from the first allocation of Sh1 billion from the World Bank, the government has so far spent Sh4 million on tea and snacks on frontline teams and Sh70 million on various forms of campaigns (both in electronic and print media).

The ministry has also used Sh12 million to accommodate 30 healthcare workers needing quarantine for 30 days.

Ms Mochache said that they have also spent Sh42 million for leasing 15 ambulances and Sh6, 500,000 for stationery.

In printing of quarantine, travellers and discharge forms, the ministry has spent Sh9 million and another Sh330.4 million on lab equipment. The money was given to the Kenya Medical Supply Agency( Kemsa).

The agency was given an additional Sh278 million for the purchase of personal protective equipment and Sh196 million for Roche test kits.

But despite the cash inflows, healthcare workers have been threatening to go on the strike should the government fail to provide them with the necessary protective gear while they are attending to Covid-19 patients.

On equipment, the government gave Sh98.8 million to Kemsa for purchase and Sh160 million for Gradian.

For the assorted PPE, the ministry allocated Sh58 million to Unicef and an additional Sh11 million for handling and delivering fees for Unicef.

FUNDS APPROPRIATION

In total, the ministry has used Sh1.3 billion, against a Sh1 billion allocation. The excess expenditure will be drawn from the additional funds from the World Bank.

Part of the Sh1.3 billion released by the government was allocated to various government institutions for mitigation measures against the pandemic and employing health workers.

From the first Sh300 million allocation, in addition to the Sh10 million given to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to facilitate the students in Wuhan, Sh75 million went to the Defence Ministry, Sh10 million to the National Youth Service for provision of security and isolation and quarantine centres, Sh150 million to KNH for an additional bed capacity at Mbagathi Hospital Isolation Centre.

The State Departments for Public Works and Broadcasting and Telecommunication were given Sh1.5 million and Sh5 million, respectively, for completion of construction works, fencing and roads at Mbagathi and community outreach.

The Ministry of Health also allocated itself Sh48 million for provision of medical response and logistics at the isolation and quarantine centres.

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