, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 23 – The controversy surrounding the management of health services pitting the National Government against the County government is bound to intensify after the Council of Governors petitioned the Senate to investigate the Sh38 billion medical equipment acquisition plans.
The governors insist they were not consulted and are now being forced to sign contracts whose details they are not privy to.
In the petition presented by Mombasa Senator Hassan Omar Hassan signed by former Council of Governors Chairman Isaac Ruto, the governors accused the national government of usurping their powers and holding on to functions which had already been devolved.
“The Ministry has not disclosed the contracts it has executed with medical equipment providers, therefore the Council of Governors request the Senate to inquire into the issue particularly the extent the Ministry of Health has executed the contracts to provide medical equipment to facilities managed by county Government a devolved functions the provisions of article 186 of the Constitution have been violated,” read part of the petition.
In the petition, governors also questioned the intention of the Ministry of Health in sending World Bank funds directly to health centers and dispensaries which are under them accusing the ministry of overstepping its mandate.
“The Ministry is pressuring counties to sign the disputed MOUs, it is not clear whether it is conditional or unconditional grant to the county governments as provided for in article 202 of the Constitution,” the letter continues to read.
During the signing of agreements to implement the project that will see every county have two hospitals fully equipped with state-of-the-art facilities, governors snubbed the event saying they were not party to it as they had not been consulted.
The governors’ pleas have not gone unheard, now the Senate which is tasked with protecting counties has joined in the debate calling for the devolution of more health functions.
Speaking in Kisumu, Health committee members Wilfred Machage, Zipporah Kittony and Catherine Mukite urged the national government to also release more funds to the sector.
“We want the National government to release more function to the devolved level of administration of Health services – in the last financial year the National Government retained Sh52 billion on its budget on health, we do not see why that money must not come to the people,” said Machage.
Mukite defended their calls saying through devolution more Kenyans were able to access healthcare further pointing out that during their fact finding mission in various hospitals among them Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Referral Hospital the public expressed satisfaction in the services but decried the understaffing.
“We are satisfied that people are getting the services, the only issue that has come is human resources,” she said.
Kittony who is the vice chair of the committee says they are visiting level five hospitals in Western Kenya as part of their needs assessment survey to ensure the people get the services they require.
These differences intensify the row between the national and county governments this coming in the backdrop of the crowning of the new Council of Governors Chairman Peter Munya who promised to strengthen the relationship between the two levels of government.