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Economy

Counties inpatient health services shut on cash crisis

CoG chairperson who is also the Kakamega governor Wycliffe Oparanya
CoG chairperson who is also the Kakamega governor Wycliffe Oparanya. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Counties have closed inpatient services at public health facilities and sent workers on two weeks leave amid protest from the Senate over the shutdown.

The Council of Governors (CoG) yesterday barred hospitals from admitting new patients and suspended all non-essential services, citing lack of funds to run operations.

It blamed senators who have failed to agree on the proposed revenue allocation formula needed to share Sh316.5 billion revenue among counties.

“County health facilities will therefore not permit any new inpatient admissions, they will only provide minimal outpatient services,” CoG chairperson who is also the Kakamega governor Wycliffe Oparanya said in a circular.

“All non-essential services are hereby suspended and county employees are advised to proceed on leave for two weeks.”

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This means counties will only keep patients who had been admitted by end of yesterday, freeze collection of garbage and stop revamp of county roads.

The closure came even as senators warned the county bosses of punishment, including removal from office if they shut down health services at a time the country is grappling with infections of the coronavirus disease.

“It is an impeachable offence for any governor to receive a memo from a fellow governor to shut down hospitals,” Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo said yesterday.

Counties cannot access the Sh316.5 billion allocated as equitable share for the 2020/21 period until senators pass the County Allocation of Revenue (CAR) Bill, 2020.

The Bill provides for the sharing of revenue raised nationally between the two levels of government as well as guides release of cash to counties from the Consolidated Fund.

A stalemate has persisted for several weeks now as senators drawn mainly from the North, Coast and lower Eastern regions reckon that 19 counties stand to lose a cumulative of Sh42 billion while 28 others gain.

President Uhuru Kenyatta on Tuesday promised counties will receive an additional Sh50 billion in equitable share for the year starting next July in a bid to woo senators to pass the formula.

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