How we can achieve a healthier tomorrow

Mary Mwadime, Chairperson of Kenya Medical Supplies Authority.  [File, Standard] 

The world has just celebrated World Health Day, which commemorates the 7th April 1948 founding of the World Health Organisation (WHO). This global organisation has played a vital role in advancing positive health outcomes.

On this recent occasion, I spared some time to reflect on the essence of this auspicious day with some local spice. I was particularly captivated by the adopted theme this year, focusing on our planet and health. It was also a reflection moment for me, as it almost coincides with my first anniversary as the chairperson of the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (KEMSA).

As a career supply chain specialist, I must confess I had never pictured myself as the chair of such a formidable institution. However, those who know me know that I am outrightly passionate about facilitating supply chain excellence, particularly in the health sector and gender empowerment fields. Sitting at my office desk, I silently perused and skimmed through the World Health Day material. Some of the material posed profound questions that took me on a reflective journey.

For example, are we able to reimagine a world where clean air, water and food are available to all? Where economies are focused on health and well-being? See, I couldn’t help but add the question: Are we able to guarantee timely delivery of medical supplies to the remotest parts of this country and the world? Suffice it to say that the envisaged planet and cities where people have control over their health and that of the planet cannot be realised with dysfunctional access to Health Products and Technologies. 

The streamlining of access to last-mile destinations; in the far-flung areas such as Rusinga Island in Homa Bay, Kibich in Turkana, or even the closest health centres such as Korogocho, in Nairobi is not rocket science. Neither can we afford to shun contemporary technologies or processes that guarantee efficiency in the public medical supply chain space. Over the years, Supply Chain practitioners have pursued several models that guarantee efficient delivery of products. From complex parts used to manufacture aircraft in Everett, Washington in the US or even the clockwork, mind-boggling movement of supplies, transmission technology, equipment, cars and fuel for Formula one racing teams. If it can be done for such complex assignments, we can undoubtedly get the supply chain solution right for life-saving health commodities.

Over the last few months, KEMSA has made tremendous progress focused on organisational reforms. The Authority adopted information technology solutions and streamlined procurement and inventory management while wading through human resource management challenges to ensure that the organisation remains fit for purpose. The organisation also made significant progress to guarantee the success of the Universal Healthcare Coverage (UHC) national scale-up, including reducing the order turnaround time from 46 days in February 2021 to 16 days at the end of February 2022.

To enhance integrity for deliveries to more than 11,000 health facilities countrywide, the Authority is also actively utilising the award-winning e-POD App in more than 45 Counties. In recent days, we have also commenced the automated procurement rollout, including issuing certified electronic local purchase orders.

The writer is the chairperson of, Kenya Medical Supplies Authority.