Kenya is set to return over Sh1 billion to the Global Fund in an ironic twist for a country struggling to raise funds for healthcare of its citizens.
The cash will be taken back to the donors following the failure of the concerned health ministry agencies to utilise the money within the project period.
The money was for the management of the HIV/Aids epidemic under the “Expanding HIV Prevention, Care, and Treatment Services” to reach universal access by 80 per cent.
The aim of the project was to reduce both incidents and associated impacts of HIV/Aids in the country between October 2015 and December 2017.
Global Fund wired to Kenya Sh3.8 billion for interventions that were scheduled to be executed within the stated period.
A review of the project’s books of accounts by Auditor General Nancy Gathungu revealed that there was an undrawn balance of Sh1,016,799,046 and a cash balance of Sh11,936,241 as of June 30, 2020.
She said that since there is no project extension in place, the money is likely to be refunded to the donor.
Gathungu castigated the management saying there was the need to expand the area of coverage to utilise the grant and to maximise the benefits.
The Health ministry had indicated that disbursements of funds to counties remained a challenge.
But the auditor holds that in the circumstances, the primary objective of reduction of HIV/AIDS new infections by 75 per cent and related mortality rate by 25 per cent may have not been achieved.
She added that the value for money for the programme may not have been realised by Kenyans in light of undrawn and unutilised funds.
A number of donor projects have had instances of unutilised funds, which have to be returned to the donors after a project’s period elapses.
Among those flagged is Sh289 million World Bank cash which the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority failed to utilise in the financial year 2017-18 against a nil budget in the Swap project.
“There have been no planned activities since the project closure which was earmarked to close on June 30, 2018,” Gathungu said.
“No explanation was provided on why the project had not been closed despite there being no activities after the project closure date,” she said.
A Global Fund-backed malaria project has also been flagged after concerned agencies failed to spend over Sh405 million.
The project was budgeted to spend Sh754 million but only expended Sh391 million, which translates to 52 per cent of the approved budget.
The ministry attributed the under absorption to slow uptake of activities occasioned by delayed exchequer releases.
It said the challenges were coupled with the transfer of officer from the project and the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic.
But Gathungu said the under-utilisation of funds may lead to failure by the project to achieve its planned goals and objectives.
Kenya could also refund Sh126 million to donors which was to be expended under President Uhuru Kenyatta’s administration free maternity programme.
The Output-Based Approach project was to end in January 2018 and had Sh3.3 billion in its coffers.
A review of the books as of June 2020 revealed that there were undrawn balances of Sh126 million and cash balances of Sh14.6 million.
The ministry attributed the reduction in reimbursable amounts to the government of Kenya funding on free maternity.
“The outstanding amount is likely to be refunded to the donor as no project extension has been sought or any indication of engagement with the financier on the way forward,” the auditor said.
Kenya relies heavily on donor funding to run its healthcare systems, as witnessed in the just ended protracted standoff with the USAID over the distribution of ARVs.
The medicines donated by the USAID were imported in January but have been lying at the Port of Mombasa for six months following the distribution row.
The National Assembly’s Budget Committee chaired by Kieni MP Kanini Kega highlighted the sorry situation in their review of next year’s budget.
They decried the over reliance on donors to fund such critical interventions saying the country should look into new strategies of sustaining the fight against HIV.
The Health Committee chaired by Sabina Chege (Murang’a Woman MP) also shared similar concerns and has been engaging the CS Mutahi Kagwe-led Health ministry on a way forward.
-Edited by SKanyara