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February 16, 2019

Sh2.1b USAID funding suspension does not affect Health ministry - Mailu

A file photo of Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu. /MONICAH MWANGI
A file photo of Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu. /MONICAH MWANGI

USAID's suspension of funding to some Health ministry departments does not affect them in any way, Health CS Cleopa Mailu has said.

In a statement on Tuesday, Mailu said support for the procurement of life-saving essential commodities has not been affected.

"Consequently, we assure Kenyans that stock-outs or non-availability of medical supplies will not be experienced," the Cabinet Secretary said.

He noted the suspension only affects programme administrative support, not service delivery, and that it may be temporary.

The US agency, in a May 8 letter, cites unspecified conditions that are yet to be met by some of the implementing partners.

Funding for procurement of commodities and equipment related to life-saving treatment, prevention, outbreak or emergency response were exempted.

More on this: USAid suspends funding for health ministry departments

Mailu said they were in talks with the United States government on the issues that arose with the aim of lifting the suspension.

"We wish to assure development partners and the people of the ministry's commitment to prudent financial management and accountability for resources placed under our stewardship."

The CS said the ministry has been addressing matters raised after a quality assurance audit by Treasury.

He said other autonomous government institutions - Kenya National Audit Office and EACC - were also carrying out independent investigations.

"[The] outcomes will inform further action. Development partners including the US government recognise that investigations by these institutions are outside the purview of the Ministry of Health."

When USAID issued the notice, Brian Woody, Kenya and East Africa Contracting Officer, said activities that directly strengthen county health systems will still be funded.

"Surveillance and service delivery will also continue receiving donor cash from USAID," he said.

More on this: USAID suspends funding for health ministry departments

GODEC SAYS SUSPENSION TEMPORARY

US Ambassador Robert Godec earlier said the suspension was only temporary and that it will allow the government to account for and show the tracking system for funds allegedly misappropriated.

Noting support that directly strengthens county health systems will still be funded, Godec said the action will not affect direct services to Kenyan citizens.

Godec further clarified that the suspension of technical support should not be misinterpreted to mean that Kenya and US relations were strained.

The ambassador said the two governments enjoy a cordial working relationship and that this will continue to be the case so Kenyans are supported further.

“We only took that step following concerns of accounting for funds. American taxpayers want to see their money spend prudently,” he said.

He spoke in Kisumu on Tuesday during a radio journalists' seminar on hate speech reporting.

The Ministry of Health has been grappling with the alleged loss of Sh5 billion.

Godec noted that once the concerns by US Government are met, the technical support will resume.

Asked to specify the amount of money which has been misappropriated, he said this will be made public later.

Godec said he will host a press conference to address any questions or requests for clarifications on the suspension.

In the ministry, US deals with interventions on nutrition, family planning, and maternal and child health, malaria, tuberculosis, HIV/Aids and strengthening health programmes.

There are also programmes aimed at making devolution work for the benefit of all through democracy, governance and conflict programmes.

In 2015, USAID distributed 3.8 million mosquito nets in 23 endemic and epidemic counties prone to malaria attacks.

In the same year, the agency signed a Sh65 billion ($650 million) contract with the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (KEMSA).

This increased the amount of US-funded medical commodities it procures, warehouses and distributes.

More on this: How Trump’s proposed US aid cuts will affect Africa healthcare

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