General Electric not to blame for idle medical equipment: official

Monday December 02 2019

From left: Aga Khan University Hospital CEO Shawn Bolouki, General Electric Africa president Farid Fezoua and Prof Gustav von Schulthess of University Hospital, Zurich, during a past event. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP


A company contracted by the government to provide equipment as part of the leased Specialised Medical Equipment Scheme has come out to defend itself against reports that some of the equipment are lying idle in hospitals.

General Electric (GE) maintained that some of the leased equipment for specialised healthcare was lying idle due to lack of adequate power in most public hospitals.


In an interview, Farid Fezoua, President and CEO of GE Africa, said currently 14 out of 585 equipment, although fully installed, are not in use but will be fully functional once sufficient power is installed.

“The machines need 3 phase power supply, which the government has not fully supplied. The provision of power and personnel to operate the equipment is not within GE’s contractual scope.

“Our scope included training of the personnel, civil works of the radiology rooms, maintenance and servicing of the equipment,” he said.


He said GE and the Health ministry have held many meetings to discuss the lack of power in some of the hospitals.

“While it is not our responsibility under the contract to provide power to the sites, we have made effort to rectify the situation, including spending substantial amounts of money installing power cables to some of the hospitals, which we believe strongly demonstrates our commitment to the success of the project and the spirit of partnership with the government surrounding this project,” he said.

“GE has installed 585 diagnostic equipment units and ultrasound systems in 98 hospitals across Kenya’s 47 counties, leading to a steady increase in access and utilisation of radiology services. We have also invested substantially in training medical staff so that the best possible use can be made of the equipment,” he noted.

Mr Fezoua denied that GE received preferential treatment from the government in terms of financial support.
“The letter of support was a necessary condition to obtain financing for the project. It allowed the Government of Kenya to secure beneficial financing, without a formal sovereign guarantee,” he said.

A Senate ad-hoc committee report seen by the Sunday Nation revealed that taxpayers are losing millions of shillings on leasing of medical equipment kits for specialised healthcare that are still unpacked and idle while the contractors continue to benefit.


While the project is currently in its fourth of a seven-year contract, the benefits on the health sector are yet to be felt in various counties. The machines remain idle due to lack of electricity, lack of anaesthetists, water and no connection to sewer lines. These are the biggest barriers to service delivery.

The report tabled before the Senate shows that digital X-ray machines which were installed in 15 counties lack adequate electrical capacity and so they are idle. Of the 115 theatre equipment installed, 11 are not operational due to lack of electricity, anaesthetists and theatre nurses.

The State rolled out MES in 2015 to lease theatre equipment, renal kits, ICU equipment, and radiology equipment to the counties for specialised treatment for ailments such as cancer and diabetes in a deal running up to 2021.