State to sign Sh38b hospital equipment deal

Kenya: The Government will on Friday sign a Sh38 billion deal for the supply of critical medical equipment to public health institutions across the country.

In a move aimed at addressing the long-standing shortage of medical equipment in public health facilities, Health Cabinet Secretary James Macharia said the deal will see all kinds of equipment supplied to two facilities in all 47 counties.

The deal with a number of local and international medical equipment manufacturers and suppliers is expected be signed at State House, Nairobi in the presence of President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Mr Macharia said the suppliers will maintain and service the equipment and only charge for the services they offer.

The equipment includes those of laboratories, theatres and intensive care units among others. The firms to supply the equipment were selected in a competitive tender floated last year.

“Once the agreement is signed, the suppliers will begin shipping and installing all the equipment across the country. We expect this initiative to be sustainable because the equipment will be under the care of the suppliers, not the Government,” he said.

Macharia added that of the equipment to be supplied to two facilities in each county, Sh21 billion worth of equipment will be exclusively for cancer, said to kill 22,000 people annually.

Drug prescriptions

“We hope that with the installation of the cancer equipment, we will reduce the long waiting lines for treatment at Kenyatta National Hospital,” he said. Some cancer patients are forced to wait up to two years to access treatment at the largest referral facility.

Macharia said due to shortage of medical specialists in various parts of the country, diagnosis of diseases from the county facilities will involve electronically transmitting results to central points where specialists can advise on treatment options and prescriptions of medicine.

However, Kenya Medical Association Chief Executive Officer Elizabeth Wala expressed concern that more personnel need to be trained and deployed to counties to manage the equipment rather than relying on telemedicine.

She said the facilities to be fitted with the equipment must also be supplied with steady electricity, water and other crucial amenities to make the project sustainable. “We welcome this timely and innovative initiative. We hope the Government will work with all stakeholders in the medical sector to make it succeed for the benefit of Kenyans,” Dr Wala said.