KDF hospitals to be opened to the public

Defence Principal Secretary Patrick Mariru

Defence Principal Secretary Patrick Mariru when he appeared before the National Assembly’s Public Petitions Committee at Parliament Buildings on March 14. 

Photo credit: Lucy Wanjiru | Nation Media Group

Civilians will soon start accessing medical services in Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) hospitals, Defence Principal Secretary Patrick Mariru has said.

Mr Mariru said discussions are going on at a “higher level” to open all KDF hospitals to the public as a way of making quality health services accessible to all.

“The discussions are at a higher level and soon we will be able to open the hospitals for other people. We are putting together the modalities on who can access and at what cost,” Mr Mariru told MPs.

The PS and Vice Chief of Defence Forces Major-General Francis Ogolla told the National Assembly Public Petitions Committee that proceeds from services offered will be used to maintain the hospitals.

“Instead of coming to Parliament each financial year to ask for money to run the hospitals, money earned from opening up the hospitals can be used to run the hospitals so that they can be self-sustained,” Mr Mariru said. He described the KDF hospitals as premier health facilities equipped with state of the art equipment that the public can benefit from.

Currently, KDF hospitals only serve military personnel, their families and dependants.

The discussion on the opening up of the KDF hospitals comes after MPs questioned why taxpayers’ money should be used to build and maintain the facilities that are underutilised.

“Why would we have so many hospitals but the occupancy remains two or three people in a day? Since independence, one memorial hospital for KDF has served us well. Then all of a sudden there is a need for more, even the users are asking questions,” Kuria East Marwa Kitayama said.

Mr Mariru was appearing before the committee over the Sh2.2 billion that the Defence ministry requested under emergency funding last year to pay the contractor who was building the KDF hospital in Kabete but who has since pulled out. Following the exit of the Chinese contractor, Mr Mariru said the government is now facing a headache over completion of the Sh19 billion health facility that is only 25 per cent done.

He defended the building of KDF hospitals across the country saying it is a morale booster.

“We have our soldiers in Somalia but their families are back here in the country. They are therefore assured that they are well taken care of,” Mr Mariru said.