Kenya’s $580m medical equipment leasing deal ‘criminal’ -Senate panel

DUNCAN MIRIRI 

THE Kenyan government’s deal to lease various medical equipment in a $580 million deal was a “criminal enterprise” that flooded hospitals with overpriced, unnecessary equipment, a senate committee said in a report.

Kenya signed contracts with five private firms in 2015 to lease specialised equipment like CT scanners to the country’s 47 county governments, who manage most health services, in a deal praised by the World Bank at the time for its ability to be replicated elsewhere on the continent.

The firms included China’s Shenzhen Mindray, India’s Esteem Industries, General Electric and Philips.

But lawmakers said the deal left many patients, some suffering from serious diseases like cancer, without proper care because there was no one to operate the equipment or problems replenishing supplies needed to make it function.

Officials at the health ministry, which was in charge of the project, were not immediately available to comment.

The report also found that some equipment, like patient stretchers, linen and equipment trolleys, was overpriced.

“The cost of the equipment supplied under the MES Project was grossly exaggerated,” the committee said.

It called on the police and the anti-corruption watchdog to investigate the deal.

“The MES (Managed Equipment Services) project was a criminal enterprise shrouded in opaque procurement processes,” the senate’s ad hoc committee on the deal said in the report, which was made public late on Tuesday.

The government also contravened the constitution by deducting cash to pay for the deal from the accounts of the county governments, the senate committee said in the report.

“All public officers found culpable… be prosecuted to the full extent of the law and be barred from holding public office,” it recommended, adding that private individuals and firms who participated in any illegalities should also be investigated.

Parliamentary committees’ reports carry legal authority and the senate can compel the investigation agencies to implement them within a set timeline. – Thomson Reuters Foundation.