Civil Society Organizations Statement on the Alleged Financial Misappropriation at the Ministry of Health
We, the representatives Civil Society Organizations, including of people living with HIV networks and individual grassroots advocates are deeply disturbed by the latest media reports that public funds aimed at improving the health and wellbeing of Kenyans has been misappropriated.
In particular we are concerned that there has been misappropriation of monies meant for the procurement and distribution of food and nutritional supplements for people living with HIV. We wish to confirm that the entire people living with HIV community cannot confirm the availability of food and nutritional supplements in Kenya. In fact, one of the main reason why people living with HIV default their treatment and some throw away ARVs is because of hunger (lack of food and supplements). This has been the situation since 2012 and we have constantly asked for food and nutritional supplements and the response from the Ministry of Health has been that there is no funding for such and that HIV treatment services are devolved to counties. We are therefore surprised that the national Government purports to have imported large volumes of food and nutritional supplements. This too, need to be investigated!
Since when did maternity wards and child health become a function of the national Government? Was this function retained to swindle funds? Why has the national Government refused to hand over functions which according to the Constitution should be handled by counties? And why procure containers and dump them at the coast for that long? When shall the clinics start working? Which container costs KShs 10 million? This too, need to be investigated!
The reported misappropriation of health funds is not just an allegation. Four years ago, USD 4Million was refunded to the Global Fund to fight AIDS TB and Malaria (GFATM) and recently, Kenya refunded USD 1.6 million to the Global Alliance for AIDS Vaccines (GAVI). These were monies that could not be accounted for. Our question is: Where does the Government get the monies to refund to donors? Why have individuals not been held responsible as the constitution requires?
The money we are talking about here (KSh 5.2 billion) is enough to put 1.4 million HIV positive Kenyans on ART for 4 years without donor support.
We therefore call upon the Government to:
1. Initiate speedy and transparent investigations and immediately refund unaccounted for and/or misappropriated funds. Our position is that the Ministry of Health cannot appoint an external auditor. We need an independent and reputable audit team to verify the issues raised in the interim Internal Audit Report
2. Ensure meaningful engagement of non-state actors in the oversight of health funds in the country to promote accountability.
3. Respect the Constitution and transfer to counties all functions and resources that are meant for counties.
Signed on behalf of CSOs, PLHIV Networks and individual health advocates: © National Empowerment Network of people living with HIV/AIDS in Kenya (NEPHAK). For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org