Kenya grappling with poor medical services

August 4, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 4 – The government has admitted that access to quality, affordable and efficient medical services was still lacking especially to the poor Kenyans.

Medical Services Minister Anyang’ Nyong’o said on Tuesday that this was because there were no proper systems put in place to ensure accessibility of treatment to all Kenyans.

“We have a big job to do because this ministry is concerned with saving people’s lives not counting bodies at the city mortuary,” the Minister said.

“That Sh10 or Sh20 they (the poor in rural areas) pay as registration fees in health centres prohibits them from accessing treatment,” he added.

Speaking during the signing of performance contracts by various parastatals under his docket, the Minister said hospital charges were a major barrier to accessing health care and that is why they were working on a comprehensive social insurance scheme.

“Over the weekend I went to a medical camp in Karachuonyo constituency and you cannot believe how many people turned up and when you ask them they tell you they have come because this is the only opportunity they have to get well,” he said.

He said that the performance contracting should lead to positive transformation of service delivery and the changes should be accompanied by tangible signs to convince the public that the government was performing better.

“Let this not be just a formal ritual to satisfy government procedure; let it be meaningful and make a difference to Kenyans in access to quality, affordable and efficient medical services,” he added.

Kenyatta National Hospital (the largest referral hospital in East and Central Africa) Chairperson of Finance and All Purposes Committee, Maxwell Magoma said the institution had to review its targets downwards because of the huge deficit amounting to Sh1.6 billion in unpaid hospital bills.

“The targets we set are commensurate with what we do expect in terms of the revenues to be generated from various areas,” Mr Magoma said.

“Initially what has been happening is that the kinds of targets which have been set get to levels whereby the revenue which have been generated is not able to meet the targets,” he added.

Deputy Director of Clinical Services Dr Charles Kabetu said the institution received many patients who were unable to meet the expenses incurred at the hospital hence lowering the revenue that was meant to supplement the services provided.

“When we have a deficit of about Sh1.6 billion and we are expected to offer the best services in terms of even the equipment we have, that does not come into play,” Dr Kabetu said after signing the performance contract.

“So the best we had to do is to reduce our targets and follow the historical background of what revenue we have been getting for the past five years to allow us set achievable targets,” he added.

Dr Kabetu said that the institution does not receive any government funding for its operations and maintenance. It just receives enough to pay salaries.

“So we have to generate more revenue from the patients although we do it through cost sharing because we are limited in terms of amount we can charge our patients,” he said.

Currently there are about 400 patients who are held in the hospital for non- payment in the last one month. 


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