December 2021 Businessdaily ;Kenya Medical Supplies Authority’s (Kemsa) will lose exclusive rights to supply drugs and medical equipment for county hospitals if Parliament approves proposed legal changes.
The move is set to hit Kemsa sales and provide a fertile market for private pharmaceutical firms.
The Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2021 seeks to change the law and give counties a free hand in choosing private suppliers for drugs and medical kits for their hospitals.
The Bill will change the Kemsa Act of 2013 that makes it compulsory for the 47 counties to exclusively procure drugs and medical equipment from the State agency, giving Kemsa a big and ready market.
The legal changes if passed will hit Kemsa’s sales given that counties are the single largest customer cluster. The latest report from the Auditor-General shows that counties owed Kemsa Sh2.64 billion in June 2019 which was twice the amount owed by the Ministry of Health, highlighting the lucrative business that Kemsa gets from the devolved units.
“The repeal of the provision will allow county governments to procure drugs and medical supplies from suppliers other than the Authority thereby ensuring adequate fill rates for both drugs and medical supplies” reads the memorandum of the Bill.
The changes come amid pressure from county chiefs who have in recent months pushed Parliament to amend the law and allow them to bypass Kemsa in procuring drugs and medical kits citing delayed supplies from the State agency.
Counties have in recent times blamed Kemsa for biting shortage of drugs and kits at their hospitals amid the ballooning bills that the devolved units owe the State agency.
Kemsa has stepped up efforts to ease t supply hitches facing counties after it unveiled four distribution centres in Nairobi, Kisumu, Mombasa and Meru that will be used as the dispatch centres for drugs and medical equipment to all public hospitals in the counties.
The Kisumu centre will serve 19 counties, the one in Mombasa supply six counties while the Meru centre will serve 11 counties in the northern frontier. Nairobi will supply 11 of the remaining 11 counties.
Kemsa is at the centre of investigations from State agencies over procurement and facing corruption allegations in the procurement of protective kits against coronavirus.
The Bill if passed will add to the financial woes of the State agency that is undergoing restructuring due to lack of financial controls, uncollected debts, supply chain crisis, warehousing and distribution problems, deadstock and purchase of non-priority items.
The Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) and National Youth Service (NYS) last month took over the running of the agency that is also facing flawed procurement said to have led to losses estimated at billions of shillings.
The takeover set the stage for declaring redundancies or terminating the services of more than 900 staff at the agency.