Kenya: Clinics in MoH Scam Moved to Mathari as Questions Still Linger

6 October 2019

The controversial mobile clinics that were deposited at the National Youth Services yard at Miritini in Mombasa three years ago have been sneaked into Nairobi County under tight security.

The Sunday Nation has established that the clinics were escorted to Nairobi under armed security provided by General Service Unit (GSU) officers between October 1 and yesterday. The 68 containers are currently being kept at the Mathari Mental Hospital.

According to a security guard, the containers were brought in at night.

"We are expecting 70 in number as per instructions. The ones that have been brought are 68, the remaining two will arrive tonight," he told the Sunday Nation.

The clinics were purchased three years ago by the Health ministry at a whopping Sh800 million. They are to be fitted with medical equipment and dispatched to informal settlements across the counties. To date, the Sh800 million project remains a non-starter.

In the deal, a shadowy supplier was awarded the contract to supply 100 containers, which he bought at a cost Sh1.2 million each but sold to the government at Sh10 million apiece making a handsome profit.

GOVERNMENT CONSPIRACY

The Afya House scam came to light in 2016 after a draft internal audit report leaked to the media suggested that the Health ministry could have lost over Sh5 billion in an NYS-like theft syndicate where government officials conspired with suppliers to divert funds, do double payment for goods delivered and manipulate the Integrated Financial Management System (Ifmis).

Moreover, the supplier had imported the containers and only brought them up to Mombasa port and thereafter, the Health ministry was to take over and transport them to the various destinations countrywide at its own cost.

The Health ministry was also supposed to afix the medical equipment required at additional costs. Just from these logistics, it was an expensive venture.

In April this year, Health Principal Secretary Susan Mochache told parliament's Health Committee that the ministry requires Sh336 million to run the clinics annually.

She also said that they need Sh330 million to transport the containers to the counties. If and when they are transported to the destinations, the ministry will require cash to hire some 400 personnel to manage the clinics.

Besides, it will seek money to put up toilets and supply water. All these costs were never disclosed before.

SHADY BUSINESS

It is not clear whether all this money has been given to the Ministry of Health and, if not, on whose cost they were transported to Nairobi and for how long are they going to stay at Mathari Mental Hospital. It is not also clear whether the removal of the clinics is because of the public outcry or the ministry is ready to distribute them to counties.

Counties that were supposed to receive the clinics initially are Kisumu, Nairobi, Murang'a, Uasin Gishu, Elgeyo-Marakwet, Kericho, Nakuru, Nandi and Makueni.

The Ministry of Health indicated that Mombasa would get six, Makueni three, and Nakuru and Nairobi counties 20 containers each.

The Ministry of Health later changed the narrative and instructed counties to write to the Ministry and request the clinics to be taken to their counties.

"If they have been removed then I don't know where they are taking them since I have not received any communication from the Ministry and I had requested for two containers," says a county official who did not want to be mentioned.

EACC PROBE

The Ministry of Health was later instructed to distribute and operationalise the clinics after the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC), which is probing the matter that involved a relative of senior government officials, gave the ministry a clean bill of health.

However, the Parliamentary Select Committee on Health says some of the medical equipment fitted in the containers have been vandalised.

The facilities are partitioned into consultation, delivery, pharmacy and laboratory rooms. They are fitted with high functioning machines, diagnostic equipment among others.

Among services meant to be offered through the scheme were maternal and child health, emergency, outpatient, post-rape care, HIV/TB care, family planning, immunisation, growth monitoring and laboratory.

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