Taxpayers will spend over Sh5 billion to move Kenya’s only referral public psychiatric hospital from Mathare to Ngong, where a modern facility is set to be established.
The State plans to relocate the Mathari National Teaching and Referral Hospital (MNTRH) situated along the Thika Superhighway to a 200-acre piece of land in Ngong in Kajiado County.
The government hopes the new facility will provide better care and more rooms and ease pressure on staff that is currently being witnessed at Mathari hospital.
But auditor-General Nancy Gathungu says the parcel of land measuring 34.3 hectares in which Mathari mental hospital stands will be exchanged for a new parcel of land in Ngong measuring 81.69 hectares.
“Available records indicate the hospital will be relocated to a new location in Ngong, Kajiado County where a modern Neuropsychiatric National Teaching and Referral Hospital will be established at a cost of Sh5,000,000,000 over a two-year period,” Ms Gathungu said in an audit of the Health ministry books of accounts for the year to June 2021.
Ms Gathungu, however, said the terms of the exchange have not been spelt out clearly stating whether the parcel will remain in the custody of the Ministry of Health and consideration of land values for the two parcels that are being exchanged.
She raised the red flag over the encroachment of the parcel of land where the only mental hospital is located in the Mathare slum area. Ms Gathungu said the ministry owns a parcel of land No.42/13/97/3 which houses Mathari Teaching and Referral Hospital measuring approximately 34.3 hectares.
However, she said the Health ministry is not in possession of title deed for the parcel of land that the hospital sits on instead only an allotment letter was provided to confirm ownership.
“In the circumstances, the value of money and ownership of the land could not be established,” Ms Gathungu said.
She said physical verification revealed the land was partially fenced by Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS). However, no documentary evidence was provided to support this explanation, Ms Gathungu said.
“It was observed that an undisclosed developer has erected a temporary fence on the unfenced portion of the land,” she said.
The auditor also questioned the ongoing renovation works at the Mathari Hospital which was founded in 1910 by colonialists.
“Physical verification in the month of December 2021 revealed ongoing renovation works at the hospital valued at Sh74,178,392.
“However, the rationale of the ongoing renovation works despite the planned relocation after two years could not be confirmed,” Ms Gathungu said.
The audit revealed that some sections of the hospital office block building have ceiling boards worn out and loosely hanging and walls are broken posing a danger to staff occupying the respective offices.
Mathari hospital is a specialised National Referral, Training and Research public institution in mental health and admits patients with severe psychiatric disorders who cannot afford private services.
The government last year announced plans to relocate mental care services from Mathari. The current hospital, according to the Health ministry will be upgraded to handle other medical purposes.
Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe in November held investment discussions with officials from Group San Donato and San Raffaelle Research Hospital in Milan, Italy to review the building plan and design of the proposed Neuropsychiatric National Teaching and Referral Hospital.
The new mental facility will be similar to San Raffaele Research hospital located in Milan Italy.
The government intends to build the new hospital through a public-private partnership (PPP) comprising local and international investors.
Kenya has in the recent past witnessed a sharp increase in the number of mental cases, especially with the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic.