, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 6 – The government has admitted that there is poor service delivery in public hospitals, but blamed the situation on lack of equipment and human resource.
Medical Services Minister Anyang’ Nyong’o said on Thursday that the Ministry was now investing Sh6 billion over the next three years to repair and equip health facilities including those constructed using Constituency Development Funds.
This came in the wake of media reports that some facilities like Bungoma hospital were overstretched forcing patients to seek healthcare in private hospitals.
“There is a problem when a hospital that was built as a district hospital for a population of 200,000 people is now catering for 1.6 million people and you have not increased the services, equipment and human resource substantially in that hospital. It is now our responsibility as a ministry to improve the infrastructure which is not going to come overnight,” Professor Nyong’o said.
He said that while appreciating the gains made in the health sector, the key challenges remained low quality services, old and dilapidated infrastructure, inadequate financial resources, inaccessible healthcare especially in remote areas, unaffordable health care and poor health systems.
“To address these challenges, we have initiated major reforms anchored on the hospital reform agenda,” the Minister said.
Other focus areas would be healthcare financing, governance and accountability systems, performance monitoring, decentralisation of resource and hospital management.
“In the current draft Constitution it is said clearly that all Kenyans have a right to life and if you have a right to life, then the government must be committed to providing quality healthcare to all its citizens,” he said.
Professor Nyong’o said the government was undertaking investments in 80 projects in hospitals across the country at a cost of Sh4 billion.
Permanent Secretary James ole Kiyiapi said the ministry would also address the problem of inequality in staff distribution across regions where there was a bias towards urban areas.
“This is a big challenge because due to the remoteness and so-called hardship areas, most of our health workers don’t want to go to remote places leading to very unbalanced distribution. This (challenge) needs to be addressed and we are doing this by coming up with an incentive system to pull rather than to push them away,” the PS said.
He said there was also a high staff turnover with about 1,500 health workers exiting service annually, mainly due to resignations and retirement.
This, he said, posed a challenge because the country already has inadequate health workers. The PS said out of the 72,000 health workers needed across the country, there were only 33,000 which is as a huge shortfall.