A country’s health system is often described as one of the vital pillars of national sovereignty.
The Covid-19 pandemic was perhaps one of the most vivid justifications for prioritising health systems’ resilience and view them as strategic security installations, almost mirroring investments in the national defence.
At the heart of a country’s health system is the national drug stores and, in our case, the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa), which has statutory obligations. These include the procurement, warehousing and distribution of health commodities to all public health facilities in the country.
This statutory responsibility requires Kemsa to operate world-class supply chain facilities and provide solutions that keep the local health system running. Our more than 11,500 health facilities are our first-line defence mechanisms and arteries for primary health care and disease management.
The government should not tolerate failure to pump these arteries with the relevant health commodities through operational inefficiencies and other management challenges.
With a base of more than 11,500 health facilities, Kemsa is best placed to procure health commodities at wholesale volumes and in good quality.
Such procurement efforts allow the authority to enjoy better pricing, passed on as a benefit to the health facilities ordering through it while fiercely protecting the patient from substandard products.
Of course, this also makes fertile grounds to make the compelling argument that, as with any other strategic and critical public installation or agency, the stakeholders can’t afford to throw the baby out with the bath water.
Kemsa is not a lost cause, though it may not have met its mandate as efficiently as expected.
Still, recent transformation efforts, management focus and integrity enhancement measures have proved that it can once again rise from the ashes like the proverbial phoenix and deliver world-class supply chain solutions. It is no mean feat to bring life back to a giant and complex institution like ours, and the road to reforms has been long and winding.
The reform agenda must be sustained to guarantee service delivery for Kenyans yearning for adequate health services. This is a commitment that the reforms team continues to hold dear and is dedicated to achieving.
The writer is Kemsa chief executive