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KEMRI board sacked over missing cash

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 9 – The government on Monday dissolved the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) board for alleged mismanagement of funds worth Sh476 million.

Public Health Minister Beth Mugo replaced the Board with a new one that will serve for a period of three years.

“Various audit reports in the recent past indicate that the Board has not fulfilled its mandate to the required standards,” the Minister said.

“In particular an audit report compiled by the Inspector General (Corporation) in December 2007 on KEMRI established that a number of serious financial irregularities had taken place,” she added.

The disbanded Board was appointed on January 2007 to serve for a period of three years, but now a new board is in place and Dr Sopiato Likimani, a consultant in HIV and Public Health, will chair it.

Other appointees to the board are Professors Ruth Nduati, Samuel Sinei, Norah Olembo, Kimumbu Thairu and Dr Peter Omboga.

The Minister said that the audits revealed there was diversion of the Institute’s funds to a private account.

Out of the Sh457 million pension fund for KEMRI’s staff, only Sh13 million could be accounted for.

A further Sh19.3 million belonging to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was diverted to private accounts.

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The Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission is still carrying out investigations on former Director Dr Davy Koech, who was suspended in August last year to facilitate investigations into the irregular transfer of Sh19.3 million belonging to CDC.

The amount is believed to have been diverted to a private bank account in Kisumu.

“Investigations are going on well and charges should be preferred very soon for these monies to be recovered,” the Minister assured.

“It has not taken very long because the Directorate of Corporations were only presented with the findings in December last year and we had to have all this evidence together, so I am sure they are doing the best they can,” She added.

Meanwhile, a deal was finally reached on the construction of a 120-bed capacity new district hospital in Kayole, Eastlands area.

The agreement between the Chinese government and government of Kenya will see the construction of the health facility at a cost of Sh427 million, fully funded by the Chinese government.

Medical Services Minister Professor Anyang’ Nyong’o said another Sh117 million would be used to purchase medical equipment.

He said the health facility would take one year to complete.

“For about 25 years there has been very little investment in terms of infrastructure and capital development for health facilities in this country at the Sub-district, district and referral levels,” Professor Nyong’o said.

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“All our hospitals cry for more investment in terms of infrastructure, equipment and human resources.”

Both governments also agreed that the Government of Kenya would be fully charged with the provision of human resource at the hospital once completed.

“So by this time next year we should be having an opening ceremony,” the Medical Services Minister said.
He said the Ministry aimed to build three district hospitals in Nairobi to ease congestion at the Kenyatta National Hospital. The other two hospitals would be constructed in the Dagoretti and Pumwani areas of Nairobi.

Chinese envoy Zhang Ming said the construction of the hospital was part of a Chinese government plan to construct 30 health facilities across Africa.

“As you know we are facing now the global financial crisis, we are facing a lot of challenges, but at this time of difficulties I think it’s the time when China should work closely with African countries, including Kenya,” he said.


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