Godec says US suspended aid to Health Ministry over graft

Tuesday May 9 2017

US Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec addresses

US Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec addresses vernacular radio Journalists at Imperial Hotel in Kisumu on May 9, 2017. PHOTO | TONNY OMONDI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By ANITA CHEPKOECH
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By EUNICE KILONZO
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US Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec has said direct financial support to the Ministry of Health was suspended due to corruption reports and lack of accountability.

Godec on Tuesday said the US government was concerned about whether the money meant for healthcare in Kenya gets to the right people and is used for services needed.

Speaking at Imperial Hotel in Kisumu during a training session for vernacular radio station journalists on election reporting, the envoy said the US had not suspended aid that goes directly to Kenyans citizens.

“What we have done on health assistance is to temporarily suspend technical support that goes directly to the Ministry of Heath because of the ongoing concerns about accounting processes and procedures that revolve around corruption.

“The US taxpayers want to see that their money is spent appropriately and goes into the right causes,” said Godec.

ACCOUNTING PROCEDURES

He said the US would resume the funding once the ministry takes steps to improve its accounting procedures.

He said the assistance to the ministry that has been put on hold is a small percentage of the overall US assistance to Kenya's health system.

“For instance, the millions of Kenyans who receive antiretroviral drugs through US support will not be affected,” he said.

He also clarified that the suspension has nothing to do with the upcoming elections and does not mean that US-Kenya relations are bad.

In a statement to newsrooms, Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu said the ministry is aware that the US had told Kenyan officials about the aid suspension.

Dr Mailu said the ministry expects the suspension to be “temporary” and that it will not affect programmes through which the US government supports Kenya’s health system.

SUSPENSION

“This suspension only affects [programme] administrative support and does not affect health service delivery to Kenyans. Consequently, we assure Kenyans that stock outs or non-availability of medical supplies will not be experienced.

"Therefore, there will be no interruptions of health care provision during the period of suspension,” he said.

He assured Kenyans and donors that the ministry is committed to prudent financial management and accountability of the resources placed under its stewardship.

"We therefore continue to engage the US government to address their concerns with a view [to] lifting the suspension," he said.

USAid/Kenya and East Africa notified the Kenyan government in a letter dated May 8 that it was suspending direct assistance to the ministry.

The aid included money covering salaries and wages, operations, domestic and international travel as well as meetings and workshops.