Barely days after he was sworn in as the third governor of Taita-Taveta County, Governor Andrew Mwadime paid an impromptu visit to Moi County Referral Hospital in Voi town where he engaged health officials and patients to understand the challenges hampering effective service delivery for the largest health facility in the county.
The governor, accompanied by his deputy Christine Kilalo and all 20 elected Members of the County Assembly (MCAs), probed the health officials on the state of the health sector that has been dogged by various challenges including lack of drugs, delay in payment of salaries and low morale for worker due to poor remuneration.
Speaking on Monday at the referral hospital, the governor stated the need to urgently address the barriers hampering service delivery noting that his government was committed to streamlining the sector through collaborating with all stakeholders.
He added that being the biggest hospital in the county, Moi referral carried the bulk of the health workers and was key to providing optimum services for thousands of patients from dispensaries and other sub-county hospitals.
“We came because we need to restore this facility to what it used to be. We are committed to addressing the challenges to make health services affordable and efficient. This is our goal,” he said.
The governor further pledged to work closely with Members of the County Assembly (MCA) to ensure health services are revamped to serve the residents.
This was the governor’s first tour of the facility after being sworn in on Thursday last week.
During his campaigns, Governor Mwadime had promised to urgently address the many challenges facing the health sectors.
Months to the general election, mounting complaints over lack of drugs and other basic amenities at the hospitals dominated the political discourse with the status of health sector becoming a key topic by all aspirants.
Incessant delay in salaries for health workers, lack of pharmaceutical drugs and low morale amongst the staff were cited as contributors to deteriorating of services at the Moi County Referral Hospital facility.
This situation was replicated in many other health facilities across the county in a situation that was blamed on poor budgeting process by the county government.
The governor said his role would be to meet with all stakeholders who would be key to revamping the health sector.
“I will meet the representative of the workers and later the hospital management to understand how we can jumpstart the sector for the benefit of our people,’ he said.
Health department officials present include Chief Officer Philomena Nkirote and Health Director Elvis Mwandawiro.
Ms Nkirote said Moi hospital was key to serving medical cases that could not be handled by other smaller facilities. She disclosed that the hospital was owed a large chunk of money largely from waiving bills for patients.
She explained that though waivers were allowed for deserving cases, the money waived was to be appropriated in the budget and refunded to the facility.
“The facility is owed money from the waivers. We are hopeful that money will be availed soon,” she said,
She further noted that the multi-million-shilling oxygen plant that had broken down was expected to be operational as repairs were being done.
The governor said a fact-finding mission at the facility would guide his administration on specific interventions to bolster health services.
Governor Mwadime, who was elected on an independent ticket, had earlier on met with all elected MCAs in what is seen as a deliberate attempt to work across party lines to deliver on elections pledges.
Mr Lawrence Mzugha, MCA-elect for Mbololo Ward where the county referral hospital is located, said they would support every effort to restore the facility to national standards.
“Ours is to make sure we support restoration efforts to have excellent services in health facilities. We will work together to ensure that dream is realized,” he said.