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William Ruto vows to end KEMSA monopoly in supplies

Deputy President William Ruto (2nd left) ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi (right)  during the Health Economic Forum, Nairobi County. June 27, 2022. [DPPS] 

Deputy President William Ruto has promised that his administration will revolutionise the healthcare sector, if he ascends to power.

Addressing Kenya Kwanza economic health forum in Nairobi yesterday, Dr Ruto pledged to restructure medical supplies to end monopoly of Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa).

The DP said it was time to fix Kemsa monopoly and allow counties to buy drugs and medical kits from different suppliers.

“I don’t know about the wisdom of having a monopoly called Kemsa, some people must persuade us that there is logic, there is a reason why we have a facility that doesn’t have drugs that are required at the right time but they have drugs that stay in the stores until they expire,” he said.

The DP noted that health facilities across all the 47 counties are lamenting over serious challenges in dealing with Kemsa and “we just simply must sort it out.”

Early this year, senators backed a Bill that seeks to end the monopoly of the State agency in the delivery of drugs and equipment to county hospitals.

The Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Amendment) Bill 2021 seeks to give counties a free hand in choosing suppliers for drugs and medical kits for hospitals.

The senators got the backing of the Kenya Healthcare Federation, the Pharmaceutical Society of Kenya (PSK) and the Mission for Essential Drugs and Supplies (Meds) who said that counties should be given a free hand to purchase medical supplies from other entities.

Ruto further said that he initially tried to reform Kemsa as the chair of the Intergovernmental Budget and Economic Council (IBEC) by recommending that counties appoint at least two directors to the Kemsa board but his efforts bore no fruits.

“Although they did that about two years ago, we are still on the same spot. The structure of the supply of drugs simply needs to be redone,” he said

Ruto promised that in rolling out healthcare reforms, the Kenya Kwanza government will procure health record digital system for portability of patient’s data and tele medicine that was stalled by the Jubilee administration.

The DP revealed that the Jubilee government had plans of implementing the digitisation of health records in the second term but priorities changed along the way.

He promised to address this within 100 days in power.

“We had gone as a government a  long way in acquiring this health system but because of conflict of interest and many other issues it wasn’t possible. But we know it has to happen so that patients data can be portable,” he said

He also said that his administration will work with counties to ensure community health workers have a stipend and this will be co-shared between the county and the national government on the basis of a shilling for a shilling.

Dr Ruto called for competitive transparent stakeholder driven procurement plan of all the health commodities like the energy sector that is one of the most competitive.

He promised that the Kenya Kwanza government will build capacity for local industry to manufacture essential and primary medical supplies and the local manufacturing of pharmaceutical commodities must be informed by the desire to create local jobs.

“We are currently importing health fluids like for example the drip which is 95 per cent water meaning we are importing water from other countries. We need to scale up out local manufacturers,” he said

The DP pledged that Kenya Kwanza government will establish a Health Service Commission that would in among other things build the capacity of health professionals and ensure continuous training and access to scholarships.

“We will create a health national body that will globally look at the gaps of the health sector and come up with solutions on how to solve them,” he said

On National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) Ruto said the Kenya Kwanza team had received proposals of breaking it into three as a way of reforming it. The three are a regulator, administrator and revenue collection as a comprehensive way to achieve the universal health coverage (UHC).