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Health CS Nakhumicha to be grilled over Kemsa scandal

Health & Science
 Health CS Susan Nakhumicha is scheduled to appear before the Senate Health Committee over the Kemsa mosquito net scandal. [File, Standard]

Health CS Susan Nakhumicha is scheduled to appear before the Senate Health Committee probing irregularities witnessed in the Sh3.7 billion mosquito net scandal.

The committee, led by Senator Jackson Mandago, wants to know the CS’s involvement in the scandal which lead to the Kenya Government losing the tender to Wambo.Org.

Just like the former Public Health Josephine Mburu, the issue of Nakhumicha being appointed to the office after tendering process had commenced is likely to be at play.

However, Nakhumicha's summoning by the committee is based on the fact that her name was adversely mentioned by the suspended Kemsa CEO Terry Ramadhani during her grilling session.

Appearing before the committee, the suspended CEO Kemsa told the committee that she received instructions from Ms Nakhumicha not to communicate directly to sacked PS Josephine Mburu, despite the malaria programme being under public health.

Instead, she said the CS directed her to communicate with PS Peter Tum who was serving at the Medical Services before being moved to the Ministry of Sports.

Executive order shows that Medical Services are under Tum’s mandate.

In a fierce exchange of words with the committee, Ms Ramadhani who was hard-pressed during the grilling said lack of clarity on whom she was to clarify the tendering issue brought a back-and-forth confrontation between herself, PS Tum and Mburu.

“CS said I stop communicating with PS Mburu. It appeared like communicating with one party would cause the other angered. I was told by the CS that any communication should be with Tum because Kemsa falls under him, though malaria and Tuberculosis (TB) budget were under Mburu,” Ramadhani told the committee.

During the probe, it emerged that letters tabled before the committee indicated that none of the letters from the sacked PS Mburu concerning the tendering process was copied to Tum who was in charge of Kemsa.

For instance, in one of the letters privy to The Standard, Mburu requested the suspended Kemsa CEO to change specifications, without Tum’s knowledge.

This is even despite Mburu telling the committee during her grilling that Kemsa did not fall under her mandate, prompting Nakhumicha to raise a red flag on whom the suspended CEO ought to be communicating to.

“Kemsa is not under Josephine. It was not under me. It was not public health. It was under Medical Services, PS Tum. And it was not under my regulation, I had no control over, my work ended when I wrote a letter,” Mburu told the committee.

Kemsa Probe: No bidder met condition for tender

Nakhumicha is further supposed to shade more light on several letters that she wrote to Ramadhani, including her (Nakhumicha’s) request instructing her to meet an individual by the name Ken Ogolla, who was to assist Kemsa by providing free nets from a private company.

According to Ramadhani, she was hesitant on meeting Ogolla saying that there are rules and regulations on how gifts should be issued to government institutions, hence she declined the offer.

Also, she did not meet Ogolla because Nakhumicha’s letter did not specify the nature of the meeting.

Mandago-led committee also wants clarity on the specifications of the mosquito nets.

On Thursday, the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority Director General Patrick Kingunyo said no bidder would have won the tender, despite the authority proceeding to issue it to Partec East Africa Limited.

Kinyugo told the committee that Global Fund has never procured mosquito nets with PBO, as suggested by the former PS in her letter to Kemsa CEO when she indicated that the nets which were to be supplied were to have PBO as one of the specifications.

“Global Fund are pyrethroid and not PBO. Therefore, the requirement of PBO should not be included in tendering. Procurement had to proceed as directed,” he said.

Also, according to Global Fund, the bidder was to provide white blue, white and light green nets, whereas the tender document indicated light blue only.

“We need clarity on specification, did they (official) approve? Did the approval concur with Global Fund, and if they did, we must have evidence,” said Mandago.

The committee is also planning to invite Peter Tum who was serving as the PS at the Ministry’s Department of Medical Services for another session. 

President William Ruto moved Tum to Ministry of Sports in the recent reshuffle of Principal Secretaries (PSs).

Others to be grilled include the then malaria coordinator Dr Ahmed Omar, representatives from Global Fund who were involved in the tendering process and Dr Andrew Mulwa who was serving as the director of preventive health.

Mandago said Ms Ramadhani and Mburu will also be summoned to re-appear before the committee following more revelation by the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority.

"We will re-invite the suspended CEO of Kemsa, former Health PS, and the CS later as we conclude the probe,” Mandago said during the grill.

Others to appear is a representative from Global fund to explain why the tender was cancelled and handed over to Wambo.Org.

Sacked Health PS Mburu was the first to be grilled in by the committee but Mburu distanced herself, saying her work ended after she wrote to Kemsa to correct the errors which had been identified about specifications of the mosquito nets.

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