KENYA: Skills gap stands in the way of Sh38bn medical tools lease

May 2015 BusinessDaily; The implementation of the Sh38 billion medical equipment leasing scheme for counties has been hit by shortage of skilled workers to operate the machines.

President Uhuru Kenyatta said on Friday that the government had discovered that there is a shortage of skilled personnel to operate the machines despite the billions of shillings committed for the leasing plan.


“It is unfortunate that we don’t have skilled medical engineers to operate the equipment we are buying,” said the President.


However, four county hospitals in Homabay, Machakos, Thika and Kakamega have received the lease machines that will be officially launched this week, said Health Secretary James Macharia.


The leasing deal will see two hospitals in each county or 94 facilities get x-ray, ultra sound, dialysis, ICU tools among others. But the public sector has a shortage of sonographers who take ultrasound images and radiographers who deal with x-rays.


These procedures are used to diagnose ailments like cancers, renal conditions and maternal complications.  


Under the leasing deal, multinational firms General Electric, Philips, Bellco SRL from Italy, Esteem from India and Mindray Biomedical Company from China will supply the equipment and earn leasing fees of about Sh5 billion annually over a period of seven years.


Mr Macharia on Monday said the multinationals have will train locals on the use of the machines. “As per the leasing agreement, they are responsible for the training and operation of the machines.  We will only pay for the services rendered,” said Macharia.


The companies have begun training medical staff from the 47 counties on how to operate various equipment that they will supply. Mindray Company is training 120 technicians and biomedical engineers in China while GE flew another 100 to the US.


Philips has been conducting local training for hospital staff that will operate the ICU equipment supplied by the company. GE also plans to set up a training institute at Kenyatta University.


Kenya has a rickety public health infrastructure plagued by a shortage of doctors, lack of medicines and medical equipment. For instance, there are only 12 oncologists (cancer specialists) in the public sector.


Under the leasing deal, Sh21.8 billion will be used for cancer radiology equipment like X-rays, mammography and ultrasound units. Theatre equipment will take Sh12 billion, renal kits, including 245 dialysis machines (Sh2.2bn), ICU equipment (Sh3.3bn) and lab machines (Sh2.7bn).

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