Health officials put to task by MPs over service delivery

Thursday February 18 2016

An operating theatre at Machakos Level 5 Hospital. Ministry of health officials and parastatal heads on February 18, 2016 had a hard time to explain to MPs how they are implementing the ongoing mega county hospital equipment projects without experienced staff. FILE PHOTO | BILLY MUTAI |

An operating theatre at Machakos Level 5 Hospital. Ministry of health officials and parastatal heads on February 18, 2016 had a hard time to explain to MPs how they are implementing the ongoing mega county hospital equipment projects without experienced staff. FILE PHOTO | BILLY MUTAI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By REBECCA OKWANY
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Ministry of health officials and parastatal heads on Thursday had a hard time to explain to MPs how they are implementing the ongoing mega county hospital equipment projects without experienced staff.

National Assembly Departmental Committee on Health members also wanted to know the system used by the ministry to verify if services are provided at the county level, why some surgeries are not being done in the country and how some Sh500 million that was allocated for the National Hospital Insurance Fund (Nhif) for disadvantaged groups was used, among a raft of other issues.

“Where is the human capacity to handle all these hospitals that are being equipped by the government so that they can be operational?” asked Sabatia MP Alfred Agoi.

“In my constituency, I have asked around and no elderly person has that card yet I saw in your presentation that 198,000 elderly have been registered under NHIF,” said asked Seme MP James Nyikal.

The MPs also asked the ministry policy on hospitals sponsored by churches and other religious institutions.

Mr Agoi criticized government support for ophthalmology while referring to Sabatia Eye Hospital in his constituency which he said, provided eye services to thousands of patients despite not being government owned and in need of support.

“Sabatia Eye hospital receives 40,000 people that require operation yet has capacity to handle only 5,000 patients so we do not know where the remaining 35,000 get treatment from or if they are getting blind fully or partially,” the MP said.

The MPs spoke after a presentation by acting director of Medical Services Jackson Kioko on the deliberations that have been going on and achievements by the Ministry so far.

Endebbes MP Robert Pukose chaired the session between the MPs and the officials.

Dr Pukose said the number of clients visiting the portable “container” clinics opened by the government in Kibera slums has declined unlike the presentation which showed they had risen due to lack of medical supplies.

In response to part of the criticisms, Kenyatta National Hospital acting director of clinical services Githae B M said Kenyans are seeking treatment abroad due to lack of some equipment in hospitals.

Dr Githae added that they are also in the process of training specialists to handle the mega equipment being put up in public hospitals countrywide.

“People go abroad because of perception and yes some facilities are not yet available in our hospitals like the bone marrow facility. We have the skill but have no facility at the moment,” Dr Githae said.

Dr Kioko explained that the ministry has a system that they have been using to check for services at grassroots facilities.

However, Dr Kioko’s response did not go down well with the MPs who challenged the ministry to conduct regular visits to health facilities at the counties to verify if services are being provided to the public.

NHIF acting CEO Geoffrey Mwangi promised to give the committee a comprehensive report of how the NHIF has been distributed to disadvantaged groups.