Why US suspended direct funding to Ministry of Health

Why US suspended direct funding to Ministry of Health

The Ministry of Health will no longer receive direct assistance from American aid agency USAID – the US Embassy in Kenya has announced.

Citing concerns over reports of corruption in the Health Ministry, the US said that it would freeze its Ksh.2.1 billion contribution to the health kitty.

“We took this step because of ongoing concern about reports of corruption and weak accounting procedures at the Ministry. The action is intended to ensure that health spending reaches those in need, and to protect US taxpayer money,” read a circular sent to newsrooms.

On their part, the Health Ministry sought to assure Kenyans that key health services, such as the issuance of antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) will not be affected following this announcement.

Officials from the Ministry also said that investigations into the graft allegations were underway.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga has, however, refuted the Ministry’s statement about ARVs and HIV treatment services, terming it mere propaganda.

“The Ministry of Health, purporting to be speaking for the US Government, has claimed that funding for programs like HIV/ AIDS, Malaria and maternal and child deaths have not been affected. Yet the US Government categorically says it has suspended “direct assistance” to the Ministry of Health and that the suspension affects all Ministry of Health departments until such a time as specific conditions are met,” read Raila’s statement.

Raila accused the President Uhuru Kenyatta-led government of turning a deaf ear to the Opposition’s warnings about high level graft in the Ministry, further adding that the Jubilee administration defended and protected culprits.

“When the Ksh5.3 billion scandal broke out at the Ministry of Health, we in Opposition raised concern that unless President Uhuru Kenyatta and the Jubilee administration moved with speed to address the matter by arresting suspects, arraigning them in court and recovering the money, the country would pay a heavy price with the poor and vulnerable sections of society suffering the most,” he wrote.

“President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Jubilee administration reacted by defending the suspects, calling the Opposition names and rolling out a series of public relations activities meant to sanitize the theft,” Raila added.

The National Super Alliance (NASA) presidential candidate went on to state that the embezzlement of Health funds was masterminded by individuals close to the presidency.

“Sandales International Ltd, which was paid Ksh41 million, features relatives of the President like Kathleen Kihanya, Nyokabi Muthama and Samson Kamiri. Life Care Medics, which earned Ksh201 million, is associated with Richard Ngatia and Paul Ndungu, individuals the President cannot claim to know nothing about,” read the statement.

He further questioned why former Health CS Nicholas Muraguri was still in government, especially since billions of shillings were embezzled under his watch.

The US Embassy will issue further clarifications on their announcement Wednesday.