More than 25 governors have signed a memorandum of understanding with the national government on the leasing of Sh38 billion worth of medical equipment, a week after they snubbed the launch of the health plan by President Uhuru Kenyatta in Nairobi.
Although Health Secretary James Macharia did not disclose the counties that have committed to the plan, he claims that the remaining governors will sign the MoU soon to allow commencement of the installation of medical equipment across all counties in the country.
“The availability of specialised medical services at county level will save lives, reduce cost of healthcare and decrease referrals to Kenyatta National Hospital,” said Mr Macharia in a press statement.
The health plan aims to enhance treatment by equipping two hospitals per county with specialised medical equipment including dialysis machines, digital X-ray machines and imaging equipment.
The governors snubbed the event, claiming the ministry of Health failed to furnish them with details of the project given that health services are devolved.
Mr Macharia immediately said the governors had been on board on the plan and had even signed to it during a meeting to brief them in Naivasha.
On Saturday, Mr Macharia said: “The equipment will allow people all over the country to access specialised medical services such as management of cancer, diabetes and other chronic diseases, dialysis for people with kidney failure, emergency and critical care for severely sick patients and road accident victims, laboratory and surgery.”
On Wednesday, President Kenyatta, speaking at the Survey of Kenya headquarters, asked Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero and his Trans Nzoia counterpart Patrick Khaemba, who were present, to lead the way in signing agreements.
“The signing of the agreement will enable Kenyans to start enjoying the benefits of the medical equipment procured by the National government but supposed to be managed by the devolved governments,” said Mr Kenyatta.
The medical equipment is being leased. Mr Kenyatta said it was wrong for the governors to continue arguing whether they were consulted or not even as Kenyans continued suffering from chronic diseases like cancer.
The agreement that was signed paved the way for 94 hospitals across the country to be equipped with a lab, ICU unit, dialysis centre, chemotherapy facility and cancer diagnostic centre by the end of May.
Council of Governors chairman Isaac Ruto (Bomet), Health Committee chairman Jack Ranguma (Kisumu) and Human Resources and Labour and Social Welfare chairman James Ongwae (Kisii) had been invited for the event but they did not turn up.
However, in October 2013, the Cabinet Secretary for Health and county executive committee members in charge of health, in a meeting held at Multimedia University in Nairobi, committed to providing quality, effective and affordable health services to Kenyans.
“We resolve that the proposal to equip public health facilities with modern equipment and its supporting infrastructure is commendable and is fully supported,” they said in a joint communique after the meeting.
Meanwhile development partners want the strengthening of intergovernmental relations and co-ordination to ensure a clearer definition of roles and functions of the various institutions.
German Ambassador Andreas Peschke, speaking on behalf of the development partners group during a forum on devolution in Nairobi, said it was necessary to improve public financial management at counties.
He said that devolution was at the core of Kenya’s transition and reform agenda towards a prosperous nation and one of the most significant political reforms since independence.
“However, expectations remain very high, and we all know that the road ahead of devolution will continue to be challenging and long,” said the ambassador.