An acute shortage of essential drugs has hit public hospitals in Mombasa as it emerged that the county government still owes the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa) Sh14 million.
Patients are bearing the brunt of the shortage as residents complained that they were being forced to buy drugs from private pharmacies.
"Buying drugs from private pharmacies is very expensive. The county government should ensure that the public hospitals are restocked," said Lynne Anyango from Mikindani.
Ms Anyango said she took her sick niece to the Mikindani Health Centre and was told to buy the medicine from private chemists.
Kemsa chief executive officer Jonah Manjari said Mombasa's debt is a small fraction of the Sh2.6 billion owed by counties.
"Across the board, we are very glad that counties have started paying. Before the end of this month, we have a commitment of around Sh590 million that will be paid by counties. We have blacklisted defaulters," Dr Manjari said.
Speaking during a talk show in a local TV station, Dr Manjari said Kemsa has adopted a strategy to engage governors directly, the Council of Governors and county executive committee members in charge of health and finance and chief officers.
The Kemsa boss said a new law was in the pipelines that will enable counties to buy directly from Kemsa.
"We will have a mechanism of ring-fencing the health funds. If Mombasa's health budget is Sh200 million we will guarantee them affordable, quality medicine distributed door to door," he added.
Dr Manjari the Kemsa depot at Changamwe will be decentralized and turned into a distribution centre.
"We have a very big depot here in Mombasa, we want to make it even more robust by ensuring it is a distribution centre for the rest of the region," the Kemsa boss added.
Dr Manjari assured Governor Hassan Joho of Kemsa's support in decentralizing methadone programs in the sub-counties.
Governor Joho had ordered his county health officials to get containers to be used as methadone centres in various areas within the tourism hub. Most of the youth are enslaved by narcotics.
The authority boss said methadone must be guarded against being abused.
"I am very glad that the governor is focused on improving health, we have plenty of methadone from our warehouse, during transportation it is guarded, there is no risk of leakage along the way. Methadone is used to treat addicted people to get off from heroin hook," added Dr Manjari.
Dr Manjari said if the Governor focuses on primary healthcare and community service, Kemsa will offer its support especially in eradicating non communicable diseases.
The organization said it has prioritized medication for hypertension as well as strengthening of renal and mental services within counties.