The U.S. government announced the suspension of aid benefits to Kenya’s Health Ministry Tuesday, following reports of corruption and gross financial mismanagement.
In a statement issued through its embassy in Kenya, the U.S. government said it was suspending direct financial support to the Ministry of Health to protect U.S. taxpayer money and ensure that healthcare spending reaches those most in need, according to the Daily Nation.
Robert Godec (pictured), the U.S. ambassador to Kenya, said the suspended aid includes money for salaries and wages, operations, domestic and international travel as well as meetings and workshops.
The U.S. envoy, however, said the United States had not suspended support for life-saving and essential health services that go directly to Kenyan citizens.
Godec spoke at the Imperial Hotel in Kisumu during a training session for vernacular radio station journalists on election reporting. There, he told his listeners that diplomatic relations between Kenya and the United States remain cordial.
“What we have done on health assistance is to temporarily suspend technical support that goes directly to the Ministry of Health because of the ongoing concerns about accounting processes and procedures that revolve around corruption.
“The U.S. taxpayers want to see that their money is spent appropriately and goes in to the right causes,” said Godec.
Ambassador Godec said the suspended aid, which amounts to about $21 million, was only a fraction of the United States’s total annual funding for the Kenyan health sector, which is in excess of $650 million.
“For instance, the millions of Kenyans who receive antiretroviral drugs through U.S. support will not be affected,” Godec said.
Reacting to the announcement, the Kenyan Health Ministry said it would be reviewing its financial auditing process, and Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu said the suspension was temporary.
“This suspension only affects [program] administrative support and does not affect health service delivery to Kenyans.
“Consequently, we assure Kenyans that stock outs or non-availability of medical supplies will not be experienced.
“Therefore, there will be no interruptions of healthcare provision during the period of suspension,” Mailu said.
He added that the Kenyan health authorities are willing to cooperate with the United States to promote financial transparency.
“We therefore continue to engage the U.S. government to address their concerns with a view [to] lifting the suspension,” Mailu said.
Allegations of corruption have reportedly dogged successive Kenyan governments, with the Health Ministry coming under focus in recent times.
In 2016, it was alleged that the Ministry misappropriated $50 million by awarding contracts to politically connected business people for inflated amounts.