Nakuru County government has clashed with the Ministry of Health after seven of its dispensaries were earmarked for closure due to poor service delivery.
Nakuru County Chief Officer in charge of Public Health Samuel King’ori faulted the Ministry for conducting the inspection and releasing the report to the public without giving the devolved unit an opportunity to scrutinise it.
Dr Kingori said that they had not closed any of the dispensaries as directed by the Ministry of Health.
“We are yet to see the inspection report and some of the dispensaries that are earmarked for closure are some of the best in the county,” said Dr King’ori.
Seven health facilities operated by Nakuru County Government have been earmarked for closure over failure to comply with minimum health standards.
The seven which include Bagaria, Banita, Mbaruk, Naishi Game, Namuncha, Ndabibi and Ngondi dispensaries were shut down over alleged delivery of substandard services. Also affected by the closure is National Youth Service dispensary.
However, Dr King’ori said since the inspection was done, the county has made major improvements on the affected dispensaries.
“I can assure our facilities are okay and we have not closed any of them because we have not been furnished with the evidence that they are in bad shape,” said Dr Kingori.
The official said that the report might not be balanced because the county was not involved.
“A good report is the one where the owners of the dispensaries are involved during the inspection,” he added.
According to closure notice dated October 8 and signed by the acting director general in the Health ministry Dr Wekesa Masasabi, the facilities had poor infrastructure and an acute shortage of staff.
Many of the health facilities in Nakuru County are struggling with poor infrastructure and shortage of staff. Interestingly, the critical health department has been allocated a lion share of the county’s Sh21 billion budget.
In the current financial estimates for the year 2019/ 2020, health department was allocated 31.1 per cent of the total budget which translates to Sh6.6 billion.
The department, which is upgrading its health facilities in all its 11 sub-counties, will spend Sh73 million on hiring staff and an additional Sh97 million on staff promotion.
The looming closure of the health facilities comes in the wake of a report by the Nakuru County Assembly Health committee which paints a grim picture of decaying infrastructure and poor services at Mau Narok Health Centre and Mwisho wa Lami Dispensary.
At least 811 health facilities operated by county governments and private investors across the country have been affected by the closure notice.
“This was based on the services offered, health infrastructure and the health personnel minimum standards as per the Legal Notice No 3 of the Medical Practitioners and Dentist Act (Cap253),” said part of the closure notice.
The closure notice was copied to all county executive committee members of Health. Dr Wekesa said that the affected facilities did not qualify to be licensed as they fell short of the minimum required standards.
This puts on spot the county’s licensing procedures and approval which have been blamed for the mushrooming of substandard health facilities.
Dr Wekesa offered a ray of hope to the owners of the health facilities if they comply with the regulations.
“They can reapply for the reopening of the facilities if they comply with the minimum standards,” said Dr Wekesa.
She added: “Until such a time they comply with minimum standards and apply to relevant regulatory bodies for inspection they will remain closed,” said Dr Wekesa.
The Ministry of Health and the Regulatory Bodies under the coordination of the Kenya Health Professionals Oversight Authority conducted a joint inspection for purposes of classification of facilities in all the 47 counties. The exercise was conducted between February and August this year.