Machakos Health CECM Dr. Ancent Kituku now says he needs 1.6 billion to resolve the health crisis in the County. This is on top of the 4.3 billion that had been allocated for the 2021/2022 Financial year.
Of the 4.3 billion allocated to the department, over 70 percent goes to wages and salaries. 4.3 billion is a third of the County’s 12 billion budget. If the department gets the request for 1.6 billion, it will have received half of the county budget.
Dr. Kituku lamented that the health department is underfunded, despite receiving the lion’s share of the county budget. The CECM’s sentiments suggest that unless funds allocations to counties are increased from the 15% of national revenue the devolved function of health will remain underfunded. Such sentiments give credence to the proposals to increase county allocations as with the minimum 35% of national revenue as proposed by the Building Bridges Initiative.
Speaking while appearing before the General oversight committee of Machakos County Assembly, Dr. Kituku blamed increased expenses of the department on Covid-19 where he says they have to spend resources in buying PPE for health workers and at times oxygen.
Hard-pressed to explain why the county needs to buy oxygen yet they have an oxygen plant, the CECM noted that the plant can only sustain 2 patients on Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) and that’s why at times they are forced to buy oxygen.
Kituku suggested that funds collected in the hospitals should be ploughed back so as to enable the hospitals to use them. It emerged that a health act outlining how this could be implemented is yet to be assented by Governor Mutua despite the assembly passing it in 2019. The Assembly Speaker Florence Mwangangi reminded the CECM that bills automatically become law once 14 days expire after being passed by the assembly if the Governor fails to assent to them or refer them back to the assembly.
On the way forward, the CECM revealed they had requisitioned 29 million which was their remaining budget to the finance department to enable them to buy drugs from MEDS which requires them to pay in advance.
The Finance CECM Eng. Francis Maliti noted that the requisition was in process and they would send a team to Nairobi to push for fast approval from the controller of budget so that the funds could be paid and drugs supplied.
The department of Health in the heated session was challenged to make requisition for funds in the supplementary budget to enable them have supplies that can last at least up to August when a new financial year will have commenced and the department will have a budget.
The MCAs demanded from the Chief officer Health documents showing the supply from Kemsa to Machakos Level 5 for drugs worth 150 million including requisitions, LPO’s, delivery notes, and Invoices to be presented before the committee on 2nd February 2022.
Decrying budget constraints, CECM Kituku also noted when the National Government had the UHC Pilot program a year ago, they received 810 million and it enabled them to deliver services without any challenge.
During the interrogation, Muthetheni Ward MCA Jeremiah Munguti sought to be told why arrears due to community health volunteers approved through a supplementary budget for the last financial year were not paid in full.
This was despite the assembly approving 84 million to pay the community health volunteers arrears in full as a lump sum and start the financial year 2021/2022 on a clean slate. This question went unanswered despite the insistence for clarity by Deputy Speaker Paul Museku of Mumbuni ward and Masii ward’s Betty Nzioki. The assembly directed that answers to this and other questions be provided in due course.