The close ally to Raila Odinga Busia County Governor Sospeter Ojaamong is on the spot for failing to put into use more than 20 dispensaries despite spending millions of shillings to build them. There are at least 62 dispensaries spread across the seven constituencies of Nambale, Butula, Budalang’i, Funyula, Matayos, Teso South and Teso North.
In 2013, after taking an oath of office, Governor Sospeter Ojaamong in his maiden speech said health was one of the sectors that needed to be prioritized. The governor also pledged to build new dispensaries to reduce the pressure on health centers, sub-county hospitals, and county referral hospitals. Nothing is happening on the ground as most of the completed dispensaries are still lying idle.
Kapina, Bulwani, Mukhobola, Imanga, Buyofu and Bulanda, Akolong’, Buyosi, Okwata, Segero, Akobwait, Aturet, Burumba, Bukadanyi, Luliba Bi, Benga, Igula, and Nyalwanda dispensaries are idle. Those that are operational have three nurses, or less, and are open between Monday and Friday from 8 am to 5 pm.
Chief Officer for Health and Sanitation Isaac Omeri said his department was working with the county assembly to ensure money was allocated to open the dispensaries.
“Our main objective is to ensure we provide better and quality medical services to the people near their homes. That is why we are doing all we can together with ward representatives to operationalize the completed dispensaries,” said Dr. Omeri.
“You have to walk for almost one hour to reach one of the three facilities. If the county opened the dispensary, that would mark the end of our struggle to seek medication,” said Stephen Washika, a resident.
Marachi Central ward representative Patrick Obuya said the county had allocated Sh500,000 in the 2019-2020 budget to aid in opening Igula dispensary to the public. Over in Teso South, Okwata dispensary was also built by the defunct local authority but it now lies idle.
In April, residents held street demos to protest its delayed commissioning. John Ekombe, a resident, said the nearest facility where they can seek medical attention is Lukolis health center situated about six kilometers away.
“All the county did after the demonstrations was to clear bushes. We are still waiting for the facility to be opened,” said Mr. Ekombe.
“We have set aside Sh2.3 million to renovate the health centre, build a fence and buy medical equipment,” Amukura West MCA Abiud Ochilangole said operations at the dispensary will start this financial year.
Matayos South MCA Linus Asiba said Sh1.5 million has been set aside in the budget to help renovate the facility before health officials can start work. A community-based organization has been meeting with residents to sensitize them on the need to participate in the budget-making process, which will enable them to push the county to implement what is captured in the County Integrated Development Plan.
“There is no value for money. Residents are not benefiting from the projects despite the fact that the county spent millions to put them up but operationalization has not been affected,” said Community Empowerment and Development Centre Executive Director Francis Namuju.