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Home / Health & Science

Governors want Kemsa out of HIV drugs

HEALTH & SCIENCEBy JACINTA MUTURA | Sat,May 22 2021 05:00:00 EAT
By JACINTA MUTURA | Sat,May 22 2021 05:00:00 EAT

 Kisii Governor James Ongwae while addressing members of the press at the Council of Governors headquarters in Nairobi.[Elvis Ogina,Standard]

The Council of Governors (CoG) wants the Ministry of Health and US government to recruit a third-party agency to distribute HIV commodities to ease the shortage in county health facilities. 

CoG Vice-Chairman James Ongwae (Kisii) said blame game between county governments and the Ministry of Health on the distribution of anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs) has led to the suffering of over 1.1 million HIV patients in the country.

“Over the past 20 years, HIV commodities have significantly been supported by US government and the Global Fund but, as a matter of urgency, we are asking the ministry and the Global Fund to procure an agent to handle the warehousing and distribution of the commodities that are stuck at the port,” said Ongwae during a press briefing at the CoG offices in Nairobi.

The county bosses gave a one-month ultimatum to the Ministry of Health to have the HIV commodities supplied to the 47 counties.

Governor Ongwae, who was flanked by his Busia, Trans Nzoia, and Elgeyo Marakwet counterparts, said the standoff between the Ministry of Health and Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa) on distribution of the drugs was hurting HIV patients.

Biting shortage

For the longest period, the US government through its charity arm, USAID, has been distributing donated HIV commodities to hospitals through Kemsa.

The HIV commodities include ARVs, laboratory consumables, reagents and HIV testing kits.

The plea by the governors come barely two weeks after the Ministry of Health and CoG agreed to redistribute HIV drugs following biting shortage in counties.

Kisumu, Migori, Busia, Homa Bay and Siaya counties were the worst hit by the shortage of ARVs in county hospitals.

The governors said national and county governments should have a candid conversation around how the country can move towards self-reliance in the purchase of HIV and TB drugs. 

Universal Health Coverage

At the same time, the CoG representatives said they have reviewed the list of hospitals contracted by the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) to include new health facilities.

“These facilities will be instrumental in the implementation of Universal Health Coverage. The list of health facilities from the counties will be forwarded to the NHIF to ensure that they are contracted in the exercise that is set to begin on July 1, 2021,” said Ongwae.

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