MPs have backed a proposal to disburse Sh1.87 billion to regional hospitals amid calls for their management to revert to the national government.
The National Assembly Wednesday evening agreed with a joint House committee that the counties get Sh226.6 billion and the national government give an additional Sh1.87 billion for the 11 regional referral hospitals.
Budget Committee chairman Rev Mutava Musyimi said they were concerned that the Level Five hospitals risked closure if they are not directly funded.
Rev Musyimi chaired the mediation committee with Mandera Senator Billow Kerrow as vice chairperson and senators Mutahi Kagwe, Mutula Kilonzo Junior and MPs Mary Emaase and John Mbadi as members.
Parliamentary Budget and Appropriations Committee chair Rev Mutava Musyimi at Parliament Buildings on March 13, 2014.
The committee was of the opinion that counties that host these hospitals would be unfairly overburdened by being asked to fund them from their share of the Sh226 billion.
“One sector that has been least understood and has been in need of support in the devolution process has been the health sector. The problem that we have in these Level Five hospitals reflects a bigger issue,” said Rev Musyimi.
The Health Committee has tabled a report recommending that the devolution of Level Four and Five should be reversed to the national government as the counties do not appear to be running them well.
The vice chairman of the Budget Committee Mary Emaase said the Level Five hospitals are in a deplorable state and failing to give the counties where they are located extra cash would have strained them a lot.
But members of the Health Committee Robert Pukose and James Nyikal insisted the House needs to ensure that the institutions revert back to the national government.
Dr Nyikal, the MP for Seme, said from his understanding and prior experience at the Health ministry, nowhere is it expressly stated that the Level Five hospitals should be managed by county governments. He is a former PS in the ministry.
He said that when the committee visited the hospitals in Kakamega, Kisumu and other counties, they found that the Sh3.4 billion given in the last Budget did not reach the hospitals.
Dr Nyikal lamented that the devolution of health was hurried. “How do you expect a system that has been working for 40 years to be devolved suddenly? That is the problem with devolution,” he said.
Yesterday, there were less than 50 MPs in the House by the end of the debate and thus the vote could not be called.
The Senate also has to consider and adopt the report before the Division of Revenue Bill can be sent to the President for assent.