Kokonya applaud first lady over beyond zero
First lady Margaret Kenyatta’s Beyond Zero campaign continues to receive praises from different quarters and political divides.
The latest is Bungoma County’s Chief Executive Committee Member for Health Steven Kokonya who termed the First Lady’s project as one that will help to increase the access to better maternal health care.
He hailed Mrs. Kenyatta for her efforts in saving lives by providing the clinics all over the country in a bid to reduce mortality rates, adding that as a county, the facility has had a great impact in getting to the suburbs to serve the common mwananchi.
“Bungoma County records average rates as far as mortality is concerned, since we have brought on board various partners to improve our facilities. The Beyond Zero campaign has been one of such very important partners –helping us provide primary health care even into the interior,” he said.
He, however, noted that getting the clinics to the required standards has not been an easy ride, though he says much is being done to see them in good shape.
“The clinics are intended to be at the level of Level 4 hospitals, something we could not manage at the time when we received the facilities as we did not have a ready budget for it.” he added.
Kokonya, in an exclusive interview with West media, is proud of the achievements his department and the County Government have registered so far including the upgrading of hospitals and health centres in the region.
Among those that have seen an upgrade in the almost 4 year period of devolution are Bungoma County Referral Hospital, Webuye County Hospital and other level 4 hospitals that he reports each Sub County has at least one.
“Improving infrastructure in our hospitals is one of our priorities. We are doing our best, but due to financial constrains, this is not an easy journey.” he posed.
“Looking at these Level 4 hospitals, it is easy to note that they do not befit that status but we are doing our best to improve that condition. ” he added.
He stated that there are plans to provide X-ray and theater services at Sirisia and Naitiri hospitals.
The CEC member laments inadequacy in the number of medics and health facilities in the County leading to overstretching of human and other resources.
“Were it our wish, with the current population in mind, we would have needed 2000 nurses employed to provide services to our people, against the 800 that we have now, ” the former gender, culture and youth and sports docket CEC member explained.
“Adding to these number is a challenge in itself since already our recurrent expenditure is almost our entire revenue, paralyzing the amount we intend to set aside for development expenditure.” he added.
Tackling the question of whether there is need to increase the amount of cash flowing from the national Government to the Counties, Kokonya said that one of the major challenges the health sector faces, since its devolution, is lack of enough funds.
“In our estimates, in this financial year, for us at least to achieve our aims, we had a budget of around Ksh. 4 billion against the Ksh. 8 Million the County was allocated from the national government. Giving such to a single department is a tall order and that means we can never get the amount we need to carry out our functions.” he said.
He supports any means that is out to increase cash flow into the county but categorically states that the referendum way is not his preferred means as it would call for more costs.
“I would not support a referendum to increase the funds devolved to the counties, though I would be willing to support any other way including negotiations with the national government to have these funds increased.” He posed.
The Bumula constituency resident appreciates every intervention that is being fronted by various partners to improve health care to members of the public, though he at the same time calls for the residents to be more vigilant with issues that regard their health.
“My call to residents is to be more keen with matters relating to their health. You cannot wait for a doctor to come inside your house and clean it for you, or to show you where and how to keep your utensils,” the anthropologist sums up.