KENYA:Free Maternity Services At Risk Over Lack of Funds

November 2014 TheStar; The free maternity service which was one of the Jubilee government flagship project is under threat due to failure by the government to refund millions of shillings to hospitals.

Under the free services, the government was to refund Sh5,000 to public hospitals for every normal birth and Sh7,000 for that involving surgery.

It is now emerging that dispensaries and level four and five hospitals in counties including Nakuru and Kirinyaga are owed millions of shillings.

Senior officers in various public hospitals, who declined to be named, however said the refunds have dried up.

“The services began on the right footing and the refunds, which are paid per quarter, came on time. But since this year began we have not been paid,” a doctor said.

The officers said this is hampering the free maternity services, with some facilities asking relatives to buy the medical equipment needed in the maternity wing.

Nakuru Health executive Daniel Mungai said they are owed millions of shillings by the national government.

He said they are currently doing an audit to determine how much they are owed.

“We have contacted the Health ministry over failure to release the funds, and we have been promised that this shall be addressed,” he said.

Kirinyaga chief officer Gitau Kinyanjui said delay to release the refunds is hurting the free services.

“We have been forced to divert funds meant for other services to the maternity programme,” he said.

While speaking in Naivasha, CS Macharia said the crisis had not been brought to his attention.

“Maybe one or two health facilities have not received their refunds, but as far as I know the free maternity programme is up to date,” he said.


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