When they were first brought to the country in 2015, they were touted as a game-changer in service delivery especially in far-flung areas.
The controversial Sh800 million mobile container clinics that have been lying idle for the four years, have yet again taken centre stage. This time with the promise that they will make an impact in the delivery of Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
It has now emerged that the clinics will be handed over to counties for the national roll-out of UHC. While signing the intergovernmental participation agreement on the implementation of UHC, each county agreed to take up two mobile clinics.
“The national government shall allocate to the county two special portable medical clinics to provide medical services within the informal settlements and hard-to-reach areas within the county,” the agreement indicates. The counties will, however, be required to provide human resource for the effective operationalisation of the clinics.
To operationalise the clinics, the Health ministry has said they would need to hire 400 health workers and attach at least four to each clinic: a clinical officer, two nurses and a laboratory technician. The government would also need to build toilets in them and get them connected to water and electricity.
They will also need a waiting bay where patients will queue as they wait for their turn to be treated.
This seems like a last-ditch attempt to finally make use of the containers especially after the Health parliamentary committee refused to allocate some Sh3.2 million to the Health ministry for transportation of the clinics to various counties in May last year.
The improvised clinics that featured in the Sh5 billion Afya House scandal have been at the National Youth Service camp in Miritini, Mombasa, since December 2015 when the first batch arrived.
The supplier, Estama Investments, was to supply, install, commission and hand over the more than 100 clinics at a cost of Sh1 billion. An audit revealed the ministry paid Sh800 million for portable clinics before installing, commissioning and handing them over.
The payment contravened the agreement between the ministry and the supplier.
The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) had blocked their installation pending investigations into their purchase.
The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) filings revealed Estama Investments spent Sh1.4 million to buy and import each of the container clinics that were then sold to the government at Sh10 million each. Health Principal Secretary Peter Tum said the ministry received the EACC go-ahead to distribute the containers.
The taxman had also taken Estama to court seeking to freeze its bank accounts for alleged tax evasion.
KRA said in its suit that Estama had not paid taxes on the Sh800 million it was paid for supplying the clinics to the ministry, but had moved some of the money to secret offshore bank accounts. KRA alleged that Estama had been suspiciously moving funds received from the controversial tender without meeting its tax obligations.