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KENYA: Fresh probe into Sh38bn medical equipment lease

September 2019 theStar; Parliament has ordered a fresh probe into the controversial Sh38 billion medical equipment leasing scheme to 47 county governments.

The National Assembly and Senate have resolved to form a joint ad hoc committee to investigate the scheme.

The Houses on Thursday ratified the recommendations of the mediation committee on the Division of Revenue Bill that proposed the probe.

The legislators want the real faces behind the deal exposed and the exact cost of the equipment established.

“The ad hoc committee should table the report before the end of the third session of Parliament,” the report by the mediation committee reads.

However, the Houses approved Sh6.2 billion towards the leasing of the equipment in the current financial year following the committee’s recommendation to unlock the impasse that had derailed the passage of the Bill.

“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.

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

Each county has been contributing Sh200 million per year for the programme since the deal was signed in 2015. 

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

We cannot have syringes and gloves being leased as part of the specialised medical equipment to counties, that is ridiculous. The joint ad hoc committee must get to be bottom of this matter because it seems like a ripoff,” Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja said on Wednesday.

In February 2015, the Ministry of Health signed the Managed Equipment Services deal with international companies for the supply, installation, maintenance, replacement and disposal of various equipment in at least two hospitals in every county at Sh38 billion. 

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

Almost annually, the ministry has varied the cost and counties are now paying  Sh9.4 billion or Sh200 million each every year up from Sh4.5 billion. 

The programme has been implemented in 98 hospitals across the 47 counties with the focus on theatres, central sterile services departments and renal ICU and radiology equipment.

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