Northern Kenya

Corruption to blame for poor health system in Marsabit, Health Committee says

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She wants a private chemist in neighbouring Isiolo County that allegedly supplied Sh24 million worth of drugs to the county last year investigated over links to some of the senior county officials.

Marsabit County Assembly Health Committee Chairperson Adhi Bino has cited corruption as the biggest challenge in the quest to provide quality healthcare to the residents.

She said it was sad that the more than 100 health facilities in the vast county continued to grapple with drug shortages despite millions of shillings being set aside for the purchase of drugs.

The official said while the health department, which is among those that get the lion's share of the county's budget, grappled with limited resources for development as the huge chunk of the money goes to payment of salaries, money for drugs was allegedly being embezzled.

The MCA cited procurement of drugs from unauthorised sources who hike the price of the products among the reasons many of the hospitals were having sporadic supplies.

"Corruption is making us lag. There is no development commensurate to the billions of shillings we receive as shareable revenue. Governor Mohammud Ali should passionately fight graft for meaningful development to be realised in Marsabit," she said.

She wants a private chemist in neighbouring Isiolo County that allegedly supplied Sh24 million worth of drugs to the county last year investigated over links to some of the senior county officials.

The chemist, the legislator claimed, lacked the capacity to supply the drugs and that the items delivered were overpriced.

KEMSA Act and the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act 2015 require county governments to only procure essential drugs from the agency which is the sole authorised supplier of county hospitals.

Asked why the County Assembly did not stop the illegality, Adhi said her committee warned the concerned officers including those at the Finance department against processing payment for the supplies but their plea fell on deaf ears.

"The money was paid in November last year. We suspect there is collusion between some county officials and the company. The concerned investigative agencies should look into the issue," she said.

The leader said it was discouraging for them that despite approving resources towards the department the electorates were being deprived of crucial services.

She said due to a lack of anti-venom in health facilities in North Horr, residents continued to die from snake and scorpion bites.

The county has in the current financial year 2024/2025 increased allocation for drug purchases to Sh150 million from Sh100 million in the last financial year.

Further, she said, the county occupying 66,923 square kilometres only had five ambulances against a target of at least one in all the 20 wards across the four constituencies of Laisamis, Saku, Moyale and North Horr.

"We have been pushing (as Health committee and MCAs) to have more ambulances bought so that we enhance emergency services but the process has been deliberately delayed by the executive. We recently summoned the chief officer in charge but did not provide convincing reasons for the delay," she said.

It is suspected the delay could be a result of bad blood between the executive and the Assembly over the latter's rejection of the former's plan to hire ambulances in 2022 and insistence that the money spent in a year could have bought several ambulances.

The Nominated MCA also cited a challenge with staffing in the health sector where the majority of the workers are concentrated at Referral and Sub-County Hospitals, leaving local health centres struggling with inadequate personnel.

"Very few of them want to work in the grassroots where healthcare is much needed," she noted.

She spoke during an interview at Marsabit's Radio Jangwani FM which happened after the Assembly Health Committee toured the Marsabit County Referral Hospital to establish the challenges the facility was facing in the wake of nurses' strike.

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