The Kenya Red Cross Society donated a multimillion state-of-the-art ultra sound machine to Taita-Taveta government in 2021 to support provision of maternal health care at the Moi County Referral Hospital. However, the machine has mysteriously gone missing. The health officials say they have no idea where it could be even as questions emerge over the security of other expensive medical equipment in health facilities in the region. The County Executive for Health Services Gifton Mkaya says he can neither identify the make nor the serial number of the expensive piece of medical equipment because it was not recorded in the hospital asset inventory. ‘We don’t know where the ultrasound machine is. It was not amongst the items included in the handing over report,’ he explained. Mkaya made this shocking admission during a grilling by the County Assembly Committee on Health in a session that was called to urgently address thorny matters affecting the health sector. The Wusi-Kishamba Ward Member of County Assembly (MCA) Mr. Duncan Wangama who is also the chair of the committee disclosed that they had received reliable information that the whereabouts of the ultra-sound machine remained unknown. He stated that officials in the department of health needed to furnish the committee with specific details of the ultrasound. ‘We need to know the cost, model and serial number of this machine so that we can speak from a point of knowledge,’ said the chair. However, the committee was shocked when the county executive admitted that he could not provide those details because he had no idea where the machine was. He however said that the matter had been reported to the police for proper investigations. When pressed on the status of the investigations, Mkaya admitted that he has not followed up the matter, attracting chastisement from the committee members. ‘You never bothered to follow up with the report. What you said is neither here nor there because it is vague. We need tangible reports and statements to work on,’ said Mr. Lawrence Mzugha, Mbololo MCA and the Deputy Majority Leader. The fact that such an expensive piece of medical equipment could mysteriously go missing at the busiest health facility in the region left the committee reeling in shock with the health officials being put on spot over the handling of assets in the department. In his defense, Mkaya asked the committee for time to establish the officers who had received the equipment when it was donated. He said that he was not in office when the machine was donated and senior officers working in the department had been redeployed into other departments. ‘The machine was not indicated in the handing over report and I only came to realize it was missing a few months back,’ he said. Mkaya said that the ultrasound equipment, which was stored in the maternity, was quietly dismantled and expensive parts carted away by unknown people. After all the parts were stolen, the empty shell was also carried away leaving no trace of where it went. ‘We will need to look at the duty rota to establish the officers who were working back then,’ he added. He admitted that it would be a tall order to get all the facts clearly given that the crime being investigated happened over two years ago. The County executive heaped blame on officers in the hospital administration, stating they were negligent, but was quick to add that investigative agencies would establish if the omission to include the machine in the inventory was a deliberate act. He added that the former Moi County Referral Hospital administration led by the Medical Superintendent, hospital administrator and nurse-in-charge were responsible for the machine. They are expected to appear before the health committee alongside the health department officials within 14-days. The committee directed the county executive for health to avail all documents pertaining to the machine including a letter to the investigative agencies. Ultrasound machines are used during pregnancy to monitor growth and development of the foetus, but can also be used for imaging body organs like heart, blood vessels, muscles, brain and breast. Depending on quality and versatility, low tier ultrasound cost over Sh1.6 million, while top-tier machines can go for up to Sh10 million.
Source:Kenya News Agency