A high court has temporarily suspended payments made by counties towards the leasing of medical equipment in a deal signed by the government four years ago.
However, Justice James Makau declined to order for an in-depth audit of the procurement process and financial transactions of the project, commonly known as Medical Equipment Services.
Businessman Daniel Muthama Muoki wanted the court to order an independent international company to conduct the audit.
Justice Makau said no more payments should be made to the five companies under the deal signed in February 2015, pending the hearing and determination of the case.
Mr Muoki told the court that the counties, which signed the agreement, have been paying a quarterly amount of approximately Sh1.5 billion.
He said the deal was about US $432,482,160 (approximately Sh43.8 billion) and the money paid to date amounts to approximately Sh18.4 billion.
He filed the case arguing that as per the original agreement, the recurrent costs such as supply of consumables and reagents as well as equipment maintenance and replacement of spare parts were to be covered at no additional cost to the facilities.
However, he said the Ministry of Health continues to pay for the same without being accountable to the taxpayer.
Through lawyer Esther Andisi, he said despite several accountability and transparency issues raised by counties, they were compelled to pay Sh95 million per annum for the project.
Ms Andisi told the court that counties have complained that the requirement to include the amount in their budgets had adversely affected their budget ceilings. The figure, she said, has since been revised upwards to Sh200 million.
According to Mr Muoki, the general concerns raised relating to the programme include the lack of requisite infrastructure and support systems for the equipment in some counties, lack of full disclosure by the ministry for the contract details, lack of specialised health personnel to operate the equipment and high charges for the specialised services being provided.
Other complaints include underutilisation of installed equipment and lack of adequate consultation between the national and county governments.
Mr Muoki has sued the Ministry of Health and the Attorney-General and named Shenzen Mindray Bio-Medical Electronics, Esteem Industries (India), Bellco srl (Italy), Phillips Medical Services and General Electric (USA) as respondents in the case.
He was directed to serve the respondents with the application within the next 10 days.