Busia Governor Sospeter Ojaamong has appealed to donors and partners for assistance of up to Sh6.7billion to support healthcare in the county, amid pressing funding challenges in the sector.
The governor said on Tuesday that the county's department of Health and Sanitation faces challenges of insufficient funding and staff shortage and needs support to operate optimally.
While delivering his state of the county address at a special county assembly sitting, Governor Ojaamong expressed hope that if funds are available, his government will provide equipment to more health facilities in Busia in his remaining time in office so as to improve health service delivery.
He told MCAs that his government has faced challenges in procurement of pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical supplies from the Kenya Medical Supplies Agency (Kemsa) because of an outstanding debt.
According to the law, all counties are required to procure medical supplies through Kemsa.
The Busia governor told the county assembly that while his government has made a substantial payment of the debt to Kemsa, the challenges persist.
"These challenges are not only faced by my government but all county governments as a result of which the High Court ruled that the monopoly that Kemsa has for medical supplies is unlawful and Parliament is in the process of amending the Kemsa Act to enable county governments source medical procurement from sources other than Kemsa," he stated.
New maternity wing
Highlighting his government's achievements in the health sector, Governor Ojaamong said congestion at the Busia County Referral Hospital's maternity wing will soon ease with its completion and a new-born unit which is 90 per cent complete.
"The construction of the three-storey facility is an effort by my government to ensure effective and efficient service delivery. It will expand the scope of service by having a one-stop reproductive health unit," he said.
The new facility will comprise delivery rooms, a theatre, maternity wards, a new-born unit and administrative offices.
An estimated 6,000 deliveries are expected to be recorded annually at the new unit.
Oxygen manufacturing plant
Among others, the county government has installed a modern oxygen manufacturing plant at the Busia referral hospital with a production capacity of 250 litres per minute.
It is expected to supply oxygen to wards, the theatre, the maternity wing and the intensive care unit at the accident and emergency block.
As a commitment to improve maternal and child health-care services in Busia, the county government has also constructed a mother and child specialist health facility at Alupe Sub-County Hospital.
The 100-bed facility will serve an estimated 220,000 clients annually and will comprise maternity wards, a theatre, an x-ray unit, nutrition and immunisation centres, infant nurseries, ante-natal clinics, laboratory and pharmacy units among others.
Governor Ojaamong said his government is committed to bring healthcare services closer to the people by targeting a radius of five kilometres on establishment of hospitals.
Some of the dispensaries commissioned by the county government so far include Igula in Butula Sub-County, Mukonjo and Wakhungu in Samia Sub-County and Buyosi dispensary in Matayos Sub-County. Others are Odengero dispesancy in Teso South and Kapina in Nambale sub-county.
Agricultural production parks
On agriculture, the county government has adopted an aggregated production parks policy which aims at clustering many small holder and fragmented farmers into a pool for efficient management.
An example is the fish cage farming in Lake Victoria where farmers invest in cages which are centrally managed by beach management units. Currently there are over 200 cages.
Aqua parks have also been successfully implemented in Bukani, Samia Sub-County where a cluster of 100 ponds is centrally managed by fisheries professionals but individually owned by farmers.
The aqua park concept will be replicated in Butula, Matayos and Teso South sub-counties with support of the World Bank through the Kenya Smart Agriculture Project at a cost of Sh120million.
Dairy parks are also planned in Butula and Teso South sub-counties under the same model. The parks have been funded to the tune of Sh21 milion in a partnership between the county government and the Kenya Devolution Support Programme.
The county is also adopting new agricultural techniques and is setting up a recirculatory aquaculture system known as RAS under the Climate Smart Agriculture Project, expected to increase fish production tenfold in the county.
The governor said it will be the first of its kind in the region and is expected to create jobs and benefit over 10,000 Busia residents.
In line with the Big Four Agenda, the county government initiated a value addition and processing project at Nasewa fish feeds plant with a capacity to produce two tons of fish feeds per day.
Governor Ojaamong said the fish filleting plant located at the Agriculture Training Centre is 40 per cent complete and will offer an opportunity to package and brand fish from Busia County, boosting the income of fish farmers.
The county government is also in the final stages of completing two poultry parks in Bunyala and Teso South sub-counties at a cost of Sh10 million each.
Horticulture parks are still in their initial stages of implementation through support from the World Bank at a cost of Sh35 million and are aimed at increasing production of high value horticultural products in all the seven sub-counties.
The project, Mr Ojaamong said, will see rehabilitation of dams in Samia and Bunyala sub-counties and construction of several far ponds in the rest of the sub-counties, equipped with modern drip and sprinkler irrigation equipment.
The county government is in the process of commissioning the second municipality in Malaba which is almost complete. The upgrade will see increased funding to the municipality, which is expected to open doors for infrastructural development.