11 May 2017

Kenya: US Health-Aid Slash Is an Ominous Sign

Photo: Diana Ngila/The Nation
Julius Korir at the Crowne Plaza Nairobi hotel on March 29, 2017.

The Sh5 billion financial scandal that hit the Health ministry last year has come back to haunt the country.

The US Government, a key funder of health programmes, has cut back some Sh2 billion aid to the country.

This is the painful consequence of corruption and impunity.

Essential medical services that depend on donor support are likely to stall. Some of the programmes under threat are HIV/Aids management, disease control and prevention, and surveillance.

Already, the country is on the verge of major disease outbreaks following the huge and destructive rains that are pounding most regions.


Dengue fever has already hit the coastal region and could spread to other areas, including Nairobi.

Unfortunately, Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu, in predictable government-speak, wants the public to believe that all is not gloom.

This is just part of the officialdom denial that continues to push the country to the brink.

Last year, we extensively published an audit report that revealed the suspected multibillion-shilling scandal at the Health ministry, which involved irregular procurement of drugs and medical provisions at highly inflated prices, the award of dubious contracts to politically connected individuals and the diversion of funds to projects never budgeted for. However, the government dismissed the report as fake.


Then Health Principal Secretary Nicholas Muraguri, who had attempted to punish the auditor and audaciously threatened our reporter who had filed the story, was later transferred to the Lands ministry without any sanction.

The cash cutback should send a strong signal to the government that it has failed to fight graft.

The case at the Health ministry is a miniscule of the other scandals that have dogged the administration, but for which nobody has been punished.

Others, such as the Sh790 million National Youth Service scam, are yet to be concluded.

Donors are peeved at the inaction and we are likely to face more dire consequences.

Chances are that other donors are likely to follow suit. We demand to have those culpable quickly punished.

The people should not suffer because of the sins of a few.


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