By Yvonne Lele | Kitui County Assembly
Several Members of the Kitui County Assembly have decried the poor status of the health facilities in the vast county even as they demanded to know about the alleged dismissal from office of the Health Executive Committee Member Ms. Rosaita Mbukua.
Speaking yesterday (Thursday), during an afternoon sitting, the MCAs called on the County Health Ministry officials to ensure residents are accorded proper and quality medical services.
The Ward Reps were reacting to a response by the Departmental House Committee on Health and Sanitation Chairman Antony Ndooh on a statement request by Mumoni Ward MCA Johnstone Kanandu.
Mr. Kanandu had in February this year tabled on the floor of the House a statement requesting Mr. Ndooh to respond on the status of the health facilities in Kitui County. Among the information that the Mumoni Ward MCA wanted to be provided to the Assembly included: the total number medical personnel in the county’s health facilities, the number of the medical institutions, number of hospitals with maternity amenities, number of operational and non-operational health institutions among others.
While responding to the statement request Mr. Ndooh tabled a detailed report that outlined the status in the medical facilities which include: the Kitui County Referral Hospital, several Sub-County Hospitals, Health Centres and dispensaries in the villages.
While a few members lauded the response, a few others castigated it accusing Mr. Ndooh of misinforming the House on the actual status of the health facilities in the Kitui.
Majority Leader Peter Kilonzo poked his fingers into the controversial issue of the County Health Minister who is alleged to have been send packing by Governor Charity Ngilu for months now asking Mr. Ndooh to clear the air about the matter.
However Mr. Ndooh denied the claims on the floor of the House saying he had not yet received an official communication regarding the minster’s alleged suspension.
Mr. Kilonzo who is also the Athi Ward MCA lamented over what he said could turn to be a sheer embezzlement of public funds in the health docket, “Mr. Speaker if there is any NYS-like scandal which will attack this county, it will come from that ministry, take that to the bank. The Health Committee chair should note that,” he said.
Matinyani MCA Sylvester Kitheka said contrary to the information given by the Mr. Ndooh, Matinyani Maternity Ward was not operational. “Mr. Speaker we need a thorough and comprehensive report concerning the real situation in our health facilities – our health facilities are everything,” he said.
He added: “What was said about Matinyani, there is nothing like a maternity Ward in Matinyani Health Centre.”
His sentiments were shared by Assembly Majority Chief Whip Stephen Musili who said: “This statement leaves me a worried man today because a Ward like Kyuso which is the largest ward by population has only one functional maternity amenity,” he said.
Nguni Ward MCA Jefferson Kiruru voiced concerns over how county health facilities are distributed across the Wards saying that some areas have been marginalized.” Mr. Speaker, we have reached a point where we have to stop continued marginalization of the some areas in this county,” he said.
He said the Assembly was not satisfied by the response from the county ministry and sought for the guidance of Speaker George Ndotto to enable the Ward Reps ensure health services are availed to the residents. “Mr. Speaker remember we are sinking Shs. 3 Billion in the health docket and therefore we need to know which are the areas of priority in relation to service delivery, areas of improvement and sustainability… the response is inadequate,” said Mr. Kiruru.
His Kanziko counterpart James Munuve while debating on the response noted there was no facility with the highly coveted maternity amenities. “My Ward is the only one among the 40 wards in the county where the locals walk more than 30 km to access health services,” he said. He called on Governor Ngilu in her bid to reduce the distance for homesteads to access medical attention to give first priority to the marginalized areas.
The sponsor of the statement, Mr. Kanandu and his Tseikuru colleague Boniface Kasina raised alarm that some health facilities in their wards were omitted in the report and wondered loudly whether the facilities which were build using taxpayers money were captured in the county’s database.
Migwani Ward Rep Philip Nguli said 118 dispensaries across the county are not operating. “The county government has not opened a single dispensary in Migwani Ward and yet we are coming to the close of the financial year,” Mr. Nguli said.
The vocal MCA questioned the readiness of the Kitui County Government to operationalize a universal medical scheme even when the health facilities were not functioning.