, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 14 – The government has now attributed delays experienced in releasing free maternity funds in some counties to the sluggish manner by some county administrators in providing the monies to respective health facilities.
Health Cabinet Secretary James Macharia refuted claims by the Council of Governors that the ministry was withholding Sh2 billion free maternity funds saying by December 9, they had released Sh1.4 billion to the counties.
“Free maternity services is a flagship project of the national government and the funds to county health facilities are conditional grants which are disbursed on the basis of returns submitted by individual counties from previously disbursed funds and that the funds have reached individual facilities,” he said.
In a statement to newsrooms on Monday, Macharia attached a document detailing how much funds all the counties have received for the free maternity programme.
For instance, Meru County has so far this year received over Sh274 million while Machakos got Sh1.6 billion.
Macharia further called on the county administrators to expeditiously kick off the disbursement process of the funds to the respective health facilities. He said a further Sh400 million is being processed for remittance before December 31.
On December 9, the Council of Governors threatened to withdraw free maternity services in counties if the national government does not disburse cash meant for maternity fees at county hospitals.
Council of Governors Chairman Peter Munya said the annual allocation for maternity fees from the national government for the 2015/2016 financial year stood at Sh4.2 billion with the Ministry of Health only disbursing Sh1.2 billion as of December 9.
Munya said the counties have been compelled to draw from their own resources to cater for the same, thus constraining their resources.
“The free maternity fees allocations by the national government to the counties is not working, counties are not receiving the allocations from the Ministry of Health which has consistently withheld the money as documentation from the National Treasury illustrates that the money has already been disbursed to the ministry subsequent to counties,” explained Munya at a presser at the Council of Governors offices in Westlands, Nairobi.
He added that last financial year the Ministry of Health did not disburse Sh1.1 billion.
“We are demanding that the Ministry of Health disburses this money to the counties immediately otherwise we will be compelled to draw from our own resources,” he added.