Kenya: Senators Want Counties to Buy Drugs From Other Entities, Apart From Kemsa

(file photo).
15 September 2020

The scandal-ridden Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa) will lose its monopoly in the supply of medical products and technologies to counties and government agencies if senators adopt a report of an ad hoc committee.

In a report tabled before the Senate last week, the committee investigating the Sh63 billion Managed Equipment Service (MES) scandal wants government agencies and counties to have authority to procure medical products from other entities apart from Kemsa.

The committee chaired by Isiolo Woman Representative Fatuma Dulo says restricting counties and government agencies to procure from Kemsa violates article 227 (1) of the Constitution.

"The Kenya Medical Supplies Authority Act be amended to remove the monopoly granted to Kemsa in the supply of medical products and technologies. Government agencies and especially county governments must be given latitude to procure competitively as envisaged in Article 227(1) of the Constitution," reads the committee report.

The committee noted that Kemsa could only supply 50 to 60 per cent of counties' needs and not all the health facilities' requirements at both county and government agencies.

"The committee finds that the statutory monopoly adversely affects the ability of county governments to meet their obligations under the fourth schedule of the Constitution in respect to delivery of health services in the county health facilities," reads the report.

The committee noted that the enactment of the Health Laws (Amendment) Act, 2019, which granted Kemsa absolute monopoly in the supply of drugs to public, making it mandatory for both national and county health facilities to obtain drugs and medical supplies from the agency and penalising anyone who does not, contradicted the provisions of the Health Act.

Early this month, the Council of Governors also expressed its intention to stop buying drugs from Kemsa owing to billions of shillings lost in the purchasing of Covid-19-related materials.

Kemsa has been on the spotlight after it emerged that officials dished out tenders to mysterious entities under the guise of procuring Covid-19 supplies.

Team faulted Kemsa

In regard to the MES saga, the team faulted Kemsa for using direct procurement in supplying consumables and reagents that were used in the renal and radiology equipment sent to counties.

The committee further observes that Kemsa did not submit any evidence to establish that it had sought to determine whether the reagents and consumables could be procured from any other supplier before carrying out direct procurement.

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