Three years has been such a long time to end the controversy over the mobile health clinics imported at a whopping Sh800 million in part of what is believed to have been a Sh5 billion Health ministry scandal.
It is still not clear at what point it was decided that the clinics — actually, containers fitted with some medical equipment — be imported. To date, there is no clarity as to who the intended beneficiaries were. And there has been no mention of staff ever being trained to use the facilities or exactly where they would fit in the public health delivery system.
As a result, the clinics were abandoned at a National Youth Service yard in Mombasa, where they had gathered dust for three years, exposed to the elements. But just when everybody thought they would be disposed of as scrap metal, a group of experts promptly inspected and gave them a clean bill of health, and then began the challenge of just what do with them.
Public money was used to acquire the clinics and, if any benefit can be derived from them, that would be some return on an ill-advised investment. Counties have not had it easy in running healthcare, which is devolved. They are also grappling with leased expensive medical equipment for which they fork out money they could put to better use. They were not even consulted on this.
It is evident that the counties were handed a docket they lack the capacity to handle, judging from the frequent strikes by health workers and difficulties in paying salaries. If they cannot make good use of these clinics, then the Health ministry should take them over and explore how to get some value out of them. There is, clearly, no need to throw out the baby with the bath water.