Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua has ordered the closure of all private medical facilities operating in a radius of 300 meters from all level four and level five facilities across the county.
In an effort to streamline operations of the county health sector, Dr Mutua also directed that similar businesses operating within 100 meters of all level three hospitals be relocated immediately.
The governor and his officers on Monday raided private clinics, chemists and laboratories operating just few meters from Machakos Level V Hospital and revoked trade licenses of the facilities which had failed to comply with an ultimatum issued by the county government on February 7.
Nineteen people were arrested in the one hour long operation aimed at “slaying the dragon of corruption in the healthcare sector.”
“We are doing this in the interest of the general public who are being exploited every day and overcharged for medical services which are supposed to be offered free in all public hospitals,” Mr Mutua told local residents.
The governor claimed that some rogue officers working in his government have been colluding with unscrupulous traders offering private health services to exploit poor residents through irregular and illegal prescriptions.
“In Machakos we are implementing the Universal Health Coverage where all residents who have signed up are enjoying free medical services in all public health facilities. Unfortunately, there is a clique of corrupt officers working in my government who have been colliding with rogue traders and private clinicians to erode the gains we have made,” Mr Mutua said.
The governor said his administration will wage a sustained war against corruption cartels in the health sector.
Reacting to their businesses’ closure, some of the owners criticised the governor saying he had overstepped his mandate and was usurping the powers of the Pharmacy and Poisons Board of Kenya (PPBK).
Speaking on condition of anonymity, one of the victims said the PPBK and Directorate of Criminal Investigations should have been involved in the decision to close down their business.
"These chemists have been there for years. The law the governor is using cannot work. Even near Kenyatta National Hospital there are many chemists," he said.
In February this year, the governor raided several chemists in Machakos and found some of them stocking government drugs and medical equipment.