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October 17, 2018

Shortage of funds hurting Health services, Tum says

Parliamentary Health Committee Chairperson Sabina Chege with Health PS Peter Tum during a retreat between Ministry of Health and Parliamentary Health Committee at Sarova Whitesands Mombasa yesterday./ANDREW KASUKU
Parliamentary Health Committee Chairperson Sabina Chege with Health PS Peter Tum during a retreat between Ministry of Health and Parliamentary Health Committee at Sarova Whitesands Mombasa yesterday./ANDREW KASUKU

Poor funding of the health sector is hampering services, Health PS Peter Tum has said.

Many people are can’t access healthcare and infrastructure is in bad shape, he said. Tum spoke yesterday at Whitesands Hotel in Mombasa during a meeting with the National Assembly’s Health Committee.

He said it would be an uphill task to achieve President Uhuru’s universal health coverage, one of the Big Four agenda.

“As a ministry we depend a lot on donors to fund public health programmes,” Tum said.

Director of Medical Services Jackson Kioko said persistent strikes by health practitioners, outbreaks of preventable diseases and challenges brought by devolution have slowed progress in the sector.

He said the Health ministry usually takes the flak for the inefficiency of other ministries.

“Sometimes the ministry is asked to respond to failures in other sectors such as water, food or traffic accidents,” Kioko said.

He asked MPs to renew their support for the ministry to establish effective disaster preparedness and emergency response mechanisms.

The cost of healthcare continues to rise, yet many Kenyans cannot afford it, he said.

Kioko said requests for fee waivers especially at Kenyatta National Hospital and Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital have increased by 30 per cent in the last five years.

Cases of patients absconding because they are unable to pay have increased by about five per cent, he said.

“Hospitals are losing revenue. As a result, they are unable to provide quality care for patients,” he said.

Kioko said a financing mechanism is needed to cushion the two hospitals so that they can improve their services.

For universal health coverage to be achieved, health centres and dispensaries must be improved, he said.

Tum said the shortage of qualified specialised health workers is being addressed.

Health Committee chair Sabina Chege said they would support the Health ministry.

The Murang’a Woman Rep said they would look into law changes for KNH and Moi Referral to get direct funding.

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