USE OF RESOURCES

Editors call for accountability in Ministry of Health

Covid billionaires scandal should not be repeated, Churchill Otieno said

In Summary

• Governance issues took centre stage during a meeting with ministry officials

KEG president Churchill Otieno speaks during a retreat between editors and Ministry of Health officials in Malindi on Thursday
KEG president Churchill Otieno speaks during a retreat between editors and Ministry of Health officials in Malindi on Thursday
Image: TOM JALIO

Kenya Editors Guild president Churchill Otieno has urged the Ministry of Health to ensure there is accountability in the use of resources as it fights the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said the ministry is getting millions of vaccines and needs to reassure Kenyans appropriate checks and balances are in place.

“We had the Covid billionaires scandal. We need accountability to ensure this does not repeat,” he said.

He was speaking during a retreat in Malindi between editors in mainstream media houses and senior officials from the Ministry of Health, led by CS Mutahi Kagwe and CAS Mercy Mwangangi.

The January 19-22 meeting comes against the backdrop of governance concerns about the health sector, including corruption cases at the Kenya Medical Supplies Agency, commonly referred to in the media as the Covid billionaires scandal.

Otieno said in townhall meetings editors hold in the counties, concerns are raised about where county monies are concentrated.

“Why do we focus more on curative than preventive health?” he said people ask.

He said the vaccine is the best weapon we have against Covid, but at the moment to get it, you have to go to a centre.

“Most people are too busy eking out a living, so how do we ensure they get it?”

On the agenda of the retreat are the health sector's legislative reforms, Universal Health Coverage, Covid-19 updates, NHIF and other medical insurance schemes.

The meeting will also discuss devolution and principles of health like procurement processes, donor relationships with regards to malaria and other diseases, and corruption and integrity at the ministry.

The Ministry of Health has been going through a tough time following the Covid pandemic that struck the country on March 12, 2021.

Most operations of other departments and directorates were disrupted as the ministry sought to battle with the virus.

The pandemic not only affected the health services but also business and other economic activities in the country.

These have largely since resumed.