Health officials taken to task over Covid-19 pandemic funds

Wednesday, May 6th, 2020 00:00 |
Health Principal Secretary Susan Mochache. Photo/PD/FILE

Hillary Mageka @hillarymageka

Ministry of Health officials were yesterday put to task over utilisation of funds allocated for the fight against coronavirus disease.

Appearing before the National Assembly Committee, Principal Secretary Susan Mochache was asked to give a breakdown of how each funding stream had been used by April 30.

“We want to know how the money that has been received by the ministry, including the donations by Chinese businessman Jack Ma, has been utilised,” Matungulu MP Stephen Mule asked Mochache.

The committee had summoned the PS to give an account of the ministry’s expenditure following claims that the money had been misused.

Mochache told the MPs that by April 30th, the ministry had received Sh300 million from the contingency fund as a result of the approval by the national response committee for preparation and response to Covid-19.

She said the ministry also received Sh1 billion from the National Treasury under the Universal Health Coverage for strengthening human resource towards the fight against Covid-19.

On Sh1 billion from World Bank under transforming health system project, and the PS said the money had been budgeted for but was yet to be received.

“We have budgeted to spend the funds once we receive them. So far no money has been spent on this as payment will be processed when all work is finalised,” the PS told the committee chaired by Murang’a Woman Rep Sabina Chege.

According to documents tabled before the committee, the ministry plans to lease 15 ambulances from Red Cross, which include 10  basic life support ambulances and five advanced life support ambulances, meant for use in 14 high risk counties for a period of 90 days at a cost of Sh42 million.

The services include serviced and equipped ambulances with consumables, PPEs, paramedics and emergency medical technicians, insured, fueled and maintained.

“These ambulances are offering evacuation and transfer of suspected Covid-19 persons from areas of domicile to quarantine and isolation centres, transfer from quarantine to hospitals of clients choice and community to quarantine centres,” the ministry says.

Despite the measures taken to protect health care workers, the PS said it was expected that some of them would be exposed or infected in the line of duty.

To avoid exposure to their families, the ministry had procured half board accommodation at the rate of Sh5,000 a day to accommodate frontline workers.

Approximately 30 healthcare workers will need quarantine services for 90 days at a cost of Sh12 million

“The estimated amount should cover 90 days. So far, an average of 32 workers have been accommodated per day for the last four weeks,” the PS revealed.

The ministry also defended the allocation of Sh70 million to communication, saying the money was needed for the creation of awareness on Covid-19.

“These funds are meant for communicating key messages through the various media platforms excluding those donated by media owners association and various messaging methods,” she said.

But the budget issued by the Ministry of Health has raised questions on whether the government has prioritised provision of some services and put measures in place to cut down the overall cost of dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

KDF defence

The ministry spent Sh150 million at the Mbagathi Isolation Centre, Sh75 million for Kenya Defence Forces teams’ preparedness and readiness for response and Sh10 million for National Youth Services for provision of security at the isolation and quarantine facilities and for buses and personnel.

NYS Director General Matilda Sakwa yesterday defended the budget saying their role was key in containing the spread of the virus. 

“The Sh10 million is for a period of three months and we do a lot. Initially we were operating even at the airports,” Sakwa said.

The ministry has so far used over 1.3 billion both from the Treasury and the National Contingency Fund.

Government Spokesman Col (Rtd) Cyrus Oguna yesterday said he did not have details about the budget but defended the move saying KDF was among the resources the country had.

“It is a pandemic and we still do not know how it may turn out. Among the resources we have is the KDF and not necessarily the facilities and equipment. We can use their doctors and nurses. It has happened in other countries,” Oguna said.

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