MPs want firms in Sh38b medical kits deal probed

Thursday, September 12th, 2019 00:00 |
Ministry of Health. Photo/PD/FILE

The fate of the controversial Sh38 billion medical equipment leasing scheme  to the 47 county governments is in limbo after Parliament ordered a probe into five international companies that supplied the kits.

The National Assembly and Senate want the Ministry of Health to table a proper disclosure on the costing of the equipment and expose the real faces behind the deal.

In a raft of recommendations to both Houses, the mediation committee on the Division of Revenue Bill has proposed the formation of a special ad hoc joint committee on MES to conduct thorough investigations and table a report in Parliament.

“The committee should table the report before the end of the 3rd Session of Parliament,” the report reads in part.

In unlocking the stalemate that has plunged counties into a financial crisis, the committee, however, approved allocation of Sh6.2 billion to the controversial Managed Equipment Services (MES) for financial year 2019/20.

The grant, which is in the fifth year of implementation, has decreased from Sh9.4 billion in the financial year 2018/19 to Sh6.2 billion in this financial year.

 “This House approves that before the next Division of Revenue Bill, 2020, there shall be a proper disclosure on the costing of equipment under the MES programme,” the report states.

After striking off the pay for MES project, the senators immediately got into a vicious fight over who would control the probe. 

In May, the Senate in the County Allocation of Revenue Bill (CARA), 2019 knocked off the cost claiming the deal was shrouded in mystery and need to be debated before money is paid.

Despite gobbling up billions of shillings, the agreement has never been made public, and the senators siding with governors now want the probe to expose the real faces behind the deal.

“We cannot have syringes and gloves being leased as part of the specialised medical equipment, that is ridiculous, the joint ad hoc committee must get to be bottom of this matter because it is a rip- off,”said Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja.

In February 2015, the Ministry initiated a seven-year programme known as Managed Equipment Services under which it engaged different international companies for the supply, installation, maintenance, replacement and disposal of various equipment in at least two hospitals in each of the 47 counties at a cost of Sh38 billion. 

The five international companies (General Electric, Philips, Bellco SRL, Esteem, and Mindray Biomedical Company) that won the MES tender, were to supply and equip hospitals countrywide with more than 95 high-tech machines to help manage diseases such as cancer and diabetes.

However, since its inception, the MES project has faced hostility from governors and senators claiming its cost has more than doubled to cater for additional items and technology to link them up.

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