NAIROBI, Kenya, November 14 – The Ministry of Health will review the $39 billion Medical Equipment Service (MES) project once the current contract expires.
Once approved, the principal secretary-designate for medical services, Peter Tum, told MPs that the MES project needed to be restructured to serve the interests of public hospitals.
A Senate report said the MES project flooded hospitals with expensive equipment that failed to improve health standards in counties as promised.
“I’m looking for a deal and I’m saying in the new contract we have to undertake a full review because we’re getting into a position where we can look at the project again and modify it to meet the requirements of the Kenya Kwanza manifesto,” says Tum.
With health being a decentralized function, the candidate promised to engage county leaders in consolation and dialogue.
He was speaking during the verification before the committee of the National Assembly chaired by the deputy of Endebess, Robert Pukose.
In February, the Board of Governors approved the extension of the controversial Managed Equipment Services for a further three years before the scheduled completion of the initial 7-year contract period.
The Council announced its decision on Friday to extend contracts for all 47 counties, citing consensus with the National Ministry of Health (MoH) on the need to review budget allocations.
“In considering the three options, the council recognizes the impact of the equipment on the delivery of health services to the people and has decided to extend the contract for another three years,” said Anyang’ Nyong’o, chairman of the CoG health committee.
“It was recommended that the CoG jointly with the Ministry of Health draft the addendum to the contracts and the memorandum of understanding between the ministry and the county governments,” Nyong’o said.
The shillings 63 billion project shrouded in secrecy has been marred by allegations of corruption, with some counties saying some equipment broke down before it even went into operation due to a lack of suitable housing units in hospitals run by the the counties.
County governments have embarked on a process to seek expert advice on the continued engagement of county-run hospitals in the scheme initiated by the national government on December 20, saying the contracts were due to end between December 2022 and May 2023.
A SEM review panel proposed a three-year extension in a report considered by the Board of Governors at a full Board meeting on December 20, 2021.
In February 2015, the Ministry of Health awarded lease contracts for the supply of specialist medical equipment to the counties worth 63 billion shillings.
According to the Ministry of Health, the type of priority equipment under the MES project was informed by a needs assessment carried out in March 2014.
In 2020, the Senate committee investigating the MES project found that Principal Secretary of Lands Nicholas Muraguri, who served as Principal Secretary of Health between 2015 and 2017, withheld contracts and other supporting documents from the former Secretary to health, Cleopa Mailu, on the grounds that they were “secret”.
At the same time, Tum promised a rigorous restructuring of reforms in the health sector especially in public hospitals.
He noted that once approved, he would give great consideration to strengthening human resources in hospitals to avert the crisis in public hospitals.
“The problem is our health service delivery system in public health facilities. The problem that is missing is that we have not considered health service personnel as required by health standards,” Tum said.
Also, once approved, reform of the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority will be on its radar to meet standards and meet medical procurement in tandem with the needs of the 47 decentralized units.
“Standards have not been met and therefore there is a need to put an agenda reform requirement in place. It is high time we reform KEMSA to respond to commodity disruption purchases so that we put it in the manner that is required, ”assured the principal secretary of medical services.
Tum, however, warned that access to health care in public hospitals for common mwananchi will be unsustainable if funding for the sector through the National Hospital Insurance Fund is not sustained.
“We are exploring funding through the NHIF and as the Kenya Kwanza Alliance we will leverage this to enable our people to get services in hospitals,” the candidate said.
This follows the narrative raised by MPs that poor Kenyans who can afford services in private hospitals must suffer due to neglect in public hospitals.
The death cases that have prompted investigations have been blamed on grossly negligent caregivers, which is an indictment of the poor state of our public hospitals.
Tum held the position of PS in the Ministry of Health before being appointed by former President Uhuru Kenyatta to his current position as the PS State Department of Labor in the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare on March 1, 2019 .
Tum previously served as CEO of Kenya Medical Training College and holds a postgraduate degree in medical electronics from the University of London.