Kenya: Governors Ditch Kemsa, Seek New Drugs Suppliers

Health workers take samples for Covid-19 tests from hotel workers in Nyeri town (file photo).
8 September 2020

Governors Tuesday resolved to procure medical supplies from other sources other than the government drug supplies agency, which they said was now unable to cater for their needs.

The resolution, following an extraordinary Council of Governors meeting, comes after a sustained push to quash the monopoly by the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa), which they said was hurting the devolved units.

Kemsa is under probe by Parliament as well as investigative agencies over its procurement of Covid-19 supplies with accusations of procurement rules being flouted.

"As county governments, we cannot risk the lives of our citizens due to lack of medical supplies from Kemsa, which is currently in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU)," Council of Governors Chairman Wycliffe Oparanya said.

"Counties have therefore resolved to procure both pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical commodities from other sources as had been agreed."

The governors started the push in earnest last month, saying the Kemsa monopoly was unfair to the devolved units.

Parliament last year gave Kemsa the monopoly to be the sole supplier of drugs to health facilities in the counties.

The House also introduced a jail term of two years or a penalty of Sh2 million for anyone who defies the decree.

Before the Act was amended, counties had the choice of buying from independent suppliers or the Mission for Essential Drugs and Supplies, owned jointly by the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Christian Health Association of Kenya.

The county chiefs had proposed that since Kemsa was at that point only supplying 70 per cent of counties' medical supplies needs, Meds should get 20 per cent of the 30 per cent Kemsa deficit, and the other 10 per cent be from other suppliers.

Meanwhile, the county governments demanded the release of the full allocations pending for the devolved units, opposing a proposal to only disburse salaries. They maintained their stand that if funds are not released soon, they will shut down counties.

"It is not logical to disburse funds meant to pay salaries and maintenance and fail to undertake development to citizens. . . We require total release of the allocated funds for both development and recurrent expenditure," said Mr Oparanya Tuesday.

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