Kenyan Governors have finally bowed to pressure and agreed to sign the Sh38 billion medical equipment leasing deal, opening the door for poor Kenyans to enjoy better quality services in public hospitals.
Despite signing the deal, the governors said they would continue to negotiate with the national government to better understand the pact, Nation Newspaper reported.
The government has leased the medical equipment on behalf of the counties. The equipment will be distributed in 98 hospitals countrywide.
Council of Governors Chairman Peter Munya (above) on Tuesday said he and his 46 colleagues had decided to offer the government “an olive branch” and would sign a Memorandum of Understanding on the use of the equipment in Level Five hospitals.
He also said governors did not want to be blamed for being a stumbling block in provision of better quality health care to the public.
He blamed the government for spreading propaganda that governors were not mindful of the health of their electorate.
“We are willing to sign and we will sign. I will personally sign the deal,” said Mr Munya while addressing a press conference at the council’s headquarters in Nairobi.
“We need to move the debate to the next level and move away from the issue of not signing.”
Asked if the governors had been forced to accept the deal, Mr Munya said the change of heart was “a sign of goodwill and for the good of the general public”.
On May 28, Health Cabinet Secretary James Macharia said 35 governors had signed up, with about 10 others expected to follow suit.
“We want to demonstrate that we are not refusing (to sign the deal), we want to bend over backwards and sign, the machines would be a plus,” said Mr Munya.
The equipment includes theatre, kidney, X-ray and ICU machines.
Mr Munya, who was accompanied by governors Paul Chepkwony (Kericho) and Ukur Yattani (Marsabit) said the governors would enter into negotiations with the Ministry of Health on Saturday with the aim of better understanding the contents of the contract that the government had signed with the manufacturers.
He, however, insisted that the way the scheme was structured was legally wrong.
“The law says conditional grants is money from the (national) government which is given to counties to use under certain conditions but this money is being used to hire machines,” said Mr Munya.
The governors had previously maintained a hardline stance and refused to sign the MoU, complaining that the government had not disclosed enough on the deal entered with the supplier and that they were not fully consulted.
During the launch of the medical equipment leasing programme by President Uhuru Kenyatta last year, most governors skipped the event in protest.
They demanded that the Auditor-General scrutinise the procurement, which they claimed was “shrouded in mystery”.
The Council of Governors also said health was a devolved function and its autonomy should be respected.
Some of the governors who had rejected the equipment had said their regions did not have enough specialists to operate them.
Lamu Governor Issa Timamy had, for instance, told the Senate Committee on Delegated Legislation that his county had no specialists to ensure the equipment benefited patients in the region.
But President Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto were categorical that they would not watch in silence as the scheme was sabotaged by county bosses.
“Given the consequences of further delay, it is clear that this scheme can no longer be politicised. There is no good politics which prevents X-ray or dialysis machines from reaching those who need them,” said the President in his Madaraka Day speech.