City Hall cannot account for over Sh156 million for the free maternity programme meant for Pumwani Maternity Hospital since the start of devolution in 2013.
Acting Chief Finance Officer for Finance Stephen Mutua told the Public Accounts Committee that the county only disbursed Sh17 million early this year out of the total balance of Sh173.8 million due to the facility in arrears starting from the Evans Kidero government.
Auditor General Edward Ouko had said in his audit report for the year ended June 2017 that City Hall did not release the millions to the hospital to pay for free deliveries.
“The County Treasury is not denying that it has an outstanding balance of Sh156 million that was disbursed by NHIF. We are making every effort to release the money,” Mr Mutua told the committee on Wednesday.
He could not explain why the balance has not been released with committee members raising concerns that it may have been used for other unapproved expenditures.
The funds are part of budgetary allocation by the national government sent through NHIF to cater for free maternity programme across the 47 counties.
City Hall’s failure to release the funds comes amid increasing pressure on the county’s oldest delivery hospital and other city facilities to provide free services to mothers.
Kenya Medical Research Institute, in a report released last year, said that county hospitals like Pumwani Maternity have strained facilities, are understaffed and overcrowded, making the capital one of the most dangerous places for expectant mothers.
The report showed that in the one-year period 1,296 new-borns died in city hospitals including the Pumwani facility, which is the oldest maternity hospital in the county.
Last year, Governor Mike Sonko found 12 corpses of infants hidden in polythene bags and stuffed in boxes at the Pumwani Maternity due to the lack of coolers at the facility.