Thursday, May 18, 2017

Kenya Receives Trump Bombshell After They Decided To “Lose” 20% Of Their Hospital Funding

The following article appeared on theconservativedailypost on May 10, 2017

Posted by Asia Mayfield  

The U.S. embassy in Kenya on Tuesday confirmed suspicions that the Trump administration is lessening the amount of aid granted to the country. As a consequence of the corruption gripping the Kenyan government, the U.S. will suspend $21 million originally intended for the health ministry.

The ministry became mired in scandal last year after almost $50 million set aside for free maternity care was mislaid, an amount that represented over 20 percent of the funds available for the entire year. Kenya’s ill-treated doctors went on strike at the same time, claiming they were subjected to poor pay and rampant corruption.

American officials stated that the U.S. was resorting to punitive measures because of humanitarian concerns over Kenya’s government. Huge amounts of money are constantly being misappropriated. The health ministry was particularly targeted because officials were worried about “reports of corruption and weak accounting procedures.” 

$21 million is only a small portion of the aid that Washington gives to Kenya. The Nairobi embassy calculates that usually at least $650 million is given every year. Officials were adamant that: “Our support for life-saving and essential health services, such as providing anti-retroviral therapy for a million Kenyans, is not affected by the suspension. We will continue to provide funding for health services and medications going directly to Kenyans.”

The so-called Afya House scandal led to widespread outrage. Afya House refers to the Nairobi building where the health ministry is located. A leaked report revealed that in October 2016 over 20 percent of the ministry’s 2015/16 budget had been “lost” or wasted on frivolous payments.

Medical workers at public hospitals in Kenya began striking last December, two months after the bombshell revelations were released. President Uhuru Kenyatta replied with threats and intimidation.

“If you don’t go back to work, you will go home and we will employ other doctors. Go back to work as we discuss your salary increment. If you continue striking, it will be unacceptable,” he said
President Kenyatta

The workers remained defiant. “While all doctors have been ready to resume duty, doing so under threats, intimidation & show of disrespect is tantamount to career suicide,” the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) tweeted.

The healthcare situation in Kenya is dire. It’s estimated that over 1.5 million Kenyans are living with HIV. It’s critical that the government stops wasting valuable resources. Medical workers remained on strike until the middle of March. The lowest paid doctors in Kenya earn around $400 a month while top-earners receive around $5000.

“The doctors were very emphatic that so much was being stolen from the health sector that it was deeply ironic that the government would then turn around and tell them that they couldn’t pay them,” said John Githongo, an anti-corruption campaigner in Kenya and head of Inuka Kenya, a grassroots activist group.  

Health ministry officials claim to be making changes. The Kenyan health secretary expressed the belief that America’s suspension of funds would be temporary. It’s questionable, however, how much will actually be done because Kenya is currently ranked one of the most corrupt countries in the world.

“This is water off their back. You have a few platitudes and it will be business as usual,” Githongo said. “There’s nothing new here, no big surprise. In the U.S. they are surprised, [but] Kenyans are completely unsurprised. But in terms of behavior change, nothing’s going to happen… Corruption finances politics in Kenya.”

Previous administrations were too free with U.S. aid. American taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to pay for the lifestyles of Kenyan government workers. Aid money is intended to help the country battle the real problems that it’s facing. But it would be better to give nothing at all than give money that’s ultimately going to be used for unsavory purposes.

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