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KNH deal is a scam; thought you should know

Sunday October 20 2019

Kenyatta National Hospital.

Kenyatta National Hospital. Its management wants to build a private hospital in order to make sufficient profits to run the public hospital. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP  

LUKOYE ATWOLI
By LUKOYE ATWOLI
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A few years ago the government made a decision to lease medical equipment for several hospitals, and make the county governments pay for this.

The decision was pushed on all the institutions, despite misgivings by some of them. More importantly, health workers uniformly condemned the move, but the government decided to push on with it.

Political figures in government waxed lyrical about how every Kenyan will now have access to the best quality of service now that top-level equipment had been procured.

Questions we asked at the time began with the cost of the programme versus the value the equipment was adding.

Despite paying billions of shillings every year for the equipment, we would never get to own them, and would have to continue leasing the equipment in perpetuity.

NO EXPERTISE

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The second question we asked concerned the fact that a large number of facilities to which the equipment was being sent had no experts to operate or understand the equipment.

We called for the training and recruitment of specialists before procuring the equipment, but we were dismissed as naysayers who did not have the best interests of our people at heart.

Today, Parliament is spending huge chunks of its time discussing the failures related to that scheme, and some are now calling it what we called it at inception – a grand scam.

In many facilities, the procured equipment, for which the county governments are paying exorbitantly, are still in the facility stores, boxes unopened.

State of the art diagnostic tools are being underused in county hospitals while larger facilities make-do with old barely functioning versions of the same.

We are here to tell you, dear Kenyans, that we told you so!

PARTNERSHIP

And then, like the moth that keeps going back to the fire despite numerous near-death experiences, we are back at it again.

The premier national referral hospital, Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH), has unveiled a “deal” in which, according to reports, a private investor will be invited to build a private hospital on KNH land in what is being touted as a Public-Private Partnership (PPP).

Among the most interesting justifications for this project is that the private hospital is expected to quickly make profits that will then be used to run the “old” KNH.

The idea that a public hospital wants to build a private hospital in order to make sufficient profits to run the public hospital is so convoluted that its logic escapes any right-thinking person.

A public hospital is supposed to be funded by our taxes in order to offer the highest attainable standard of healthcare as envisioned in our Constitution.

LOSS OF RESOURCES

The fact that the government is no longer allocating sufficient funds to the hospital is a matter for interrogation by the peoples’ representatives in Parliament, not an excuse to fleece the public with a project that appears all set to result in the loss of public resources.

The fact that some in Parliament are supporting this transparently crazy deal just goes to show how low our body politic has sunk.

Like we did four years ago when the government introduced the ill-fated Medical Equipment Scheme, we are saying today that the KNH mega-project is a scam that will result in the senseless loss of public resources.

If implemented, we shall be back here in these columns to tell you, once again, that we told you so!

The writer is the Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Moi University School of Medicine; [email protected]

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