SACRIFICIAL LAMB?

Sh1.2 billion medical kit scandal rocks KNH

There are fears the equipment is nonexistent or obsolete at the expense of taxpayers

In Summary

• Agreement was entered between the then Finance ministry under the late Minister David Mwiraria and the Spanish government. 

• MPs question why hospital sought to service a loan they are not part of, want to know how supplies turned to be the hospital's debt yet it did not sanction the purchases. 

Kenyatta National Hospital CEO Evanson Kimuri when he appeared before Public Investments Committee on November 12
EXPLANATION SOUGHT: Kenyatta National Hospital CEO Evanson Kimuri when he appeared before Public Investments Committee on November 12
Image: EZEKIEL AMING'A

Kenyatta National Hospital is on the spot amid uncertainty over the availability of Sh1.2 billion medical equipment sourced in a deal with the Spanish government in 2005. 

The agreement was entered between the then Finance ministry under the late Minister David Mwiraria and the Spanish government. 

MPs at the Public Investments Committee, however, flagged the deal citing uncertainty in whether the equipment was ever supplied and if it is still in use.

The committee chaired by Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir said it beat logic that the deal was entered between two entities that have no direct link to the health sector. 

The committee said the deal was close to the one executed by the Jubilee administration under the Managed Medical Equipment Scheme, which has been shrouded with mystery.

Questions members want to be asked include how the supplies turned to be the hospital's debt yet it did not sanction the purchases. 

KNH said they were categorical they could not pay the loan and want to remove it from the books. 

But members sought answers on why the hospital sought to service a loan they are not part of, citing fears of dishonesty by the management.

This followed an audit query which highlighted an outstanding loan owed to the government by the hospital. 

CEO Evanson Kamuri told the committee that they have been seeking to have the Treasury change the loan into a grant saying the hospital was only a recipient.

But MPs at the committee warned that taxpayers may have lost the money as it was not clear whether the equipment was of significance to the country’s healthcare needs. 

The committee wants answers to whether KNH requested for equipment and whether there was a needs assessment before the request (if any) was made. 

This followed Kamuri’s explanation that the hospital received equipment during the call for upgrades of Accident and Emergency section, a word which MPs cast doubt on. 

North Mugirango MP Joash Nyamoko sought to know whom the request was forwarded to and whether the management had a copy of the same.

Kiminini MP Chris Wamalwa said, “This has been a scandal…the CEO should give detail of the specific equipment. If that is not provided, then his explanation amounts to rumours.” 

Nassir asked, “Did we need the equipment? Were you forced to take them? Since there is no formal agreement, on what basis has the Treasury been paying the loan before KNH knew?” 

The committee wants KNH to give a chronology of how the contract was executed and the people involved up to the point the facility got to know of the equipment.

Members further questioned KNH management over its letter to the Treasury saying how would it have helped in the face of revelations the correspondences were through the Ministry of Health. 

Other sought explanations are on whether the hospital management was simply carrying the burden of bigwigs who benefited from the arrangement. 

On this, Kamuri said, “The agreement was reached in 2005 and was government to government…there is nobody we are protecting, we are giving facts as they are.”

But Nassir challenged him, saying the document has no mention of KNH hence begs the question of what prompted the hospital to write to the Treasury to waive the debt.

“Did we get value for money in the equipment? Did we ascertain their usability or were they simply dumped here?” 

The MPs said they would summon former CEO Lilian Koros to shed more light on the deal but others said the current boss should equally take responsibility. 

“He has been in the system and, therefore, cannot claim to be unaware of the agreement,” Kaloleni's Paul Katana said.

“This was one huge deal that no one knows about. No one knows what the equipment is. We are not sure if any valuation or technical checks were done,” committee chairman Nassir said.

This was after Kamuri told the committee that some of the equipment was obsolete, even as MPs insisted that the deal must have been forced down the management’s throat. 

“KNH is a sacrificial lamb of the Treasury and government of Spain,” Mandera East MP Omar Maalim said. 

Edited by R.Wamochie