Former PS Mburu's letter that signed her out of job hardly six months in office

Former Public Health Principal Secretary Dr Josephine Mburu. [Filed, Standard]

Sacked Health Principal Secretary Josephine Mburu's letter on February 21, 2023, triggered a chain of events that led to a fallout in the Sh3.7 billion Global Fund mosquito nets tender, later claiming several jobs including her own. 

Dr Mburu's letter to the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa) declared maladministration of the tender.

In the letter, the former PS flagged an alleged inconsistency in the specification of the tender and asked Kemsa, through its suspended CEO Terry Ramadhani, to rectify it. 

Ms Ramadhani, in turn, wrote to Global Fund alerting them that Kemsa would extend the closing date of the tender by 10 days to accommodate the correction of the error.

But the Global Fund, through their coordinator in Nairobi Simon Kibia, rejected Dr Mburu's proposed changes, saying they did not require the specifications she was insisting on.

Mburu had insisted on the inclusion of ’synergist-piperonyl-Butoxide (PBO) LLINs- Combination nets' specification in the tender, saying it had missed out in the tender that had been published by Kemsa.

"The LLINs being procured by GF grant are pyrethroid LLINs and not the PBO LLINs, therefore the requirement Number 2 Synergist piperonyl-Butoxide (PBO) LLINs should not be included in the tender document as part of the technical specifications," Kibia said in his response on February 24.

He said the specification Mburu was insisting on was removed and that prior to publishing of the tender, GF had reviewed the tender document, and gave the feedback.

"The purpose of this letter is to request you to proceed with the procurement using the tender document as approved by the Global Fund," he said.

By that time, however, Kemsa had already republished the tender, indicating March 10 as the new closing date for the multi-billion shilling deal. 

In approving the original tender document, Global Fund had asked Kemsa to provide World Health Organisation (WHO) with useful links to guide bidders and the technical evaluation committee, on the quality of mosquito nets, as per the WHO pesticide evaluation scheme.

The donor wanted the bidder to provide light blue, white and light green mosquito nets, in colour.

According to a Global Fund audit, the table of contents of the tender document was put in a manner that was not easier for bidders to identify key information, and tender forms in the package.

Kemsa is also accused of delaying the tendering, to rectify the said errors, forcing the government to lose the Sh3.7 billion deal for procuring the mosquito nets to is expected to procure and distribute the mosquito nets on behalf of the government, yet the deal would have been won by a local manufacturer.

The government has also lost the Sh370 million it would have earned for procurement, warehousing and distribution of the commodities, a sad turn of events at a time the country is struggling economically.

Global Fund is a key grant to the healthcare system, and a pillar in fighting malaria, HIV/AIDS, and Tuberculosis.