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Tanzanian firm supplies Kenya with mosquito nets after Kemsa saga

 A young man surrounds his bed with a treated mosquito net amid a fight to eradicate malaria. [File, Standard]

A Tanzanian company has been contracted to supply Kenya with Long Lasting Insecticidal Treated Nets (LLITNs), for mass distribution.

A source at the Ministry of Health told The Standard that the company was contracted by Wambo.Org to supply the nets.

Initially, the Sh3.7 billion tender was to be awarded to a Kenyan manufacturer, but none of the bidders won the tender to supply the commodities which are funded by Global Fund.

Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa) advertised for the tender to supply mosquito nets.

However, Kemsa is accused of awarding the tender to an unqualified bidder, leading to the cancellation of the tender by Global Fund, in favour of Wambo.Org, an international supplies agency.

“Tanzanian local manufacturer already supplied required mosquito specifications ready for distribution,” said the source who sought anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

Kemsa Chairperson Irungu Nyakera told The Standard the nets have been supplied by Wambo.Org.

However, he did not say whether Wambo.Org had contracted a manufacturer in Tanzania for the tender.

“It was procured by Wambo,” said Nyakera, in response to who the supplier of the nets was.

In a statement, Public Health Principal Secretary Mary Muthoni said: “The success of this nationwide endeavour (mosquito distribution campaign) is a result of collaborative efforts from the Ministry of Health, the National Malaria Program, and a network of dedicated health partners."

The nets were handed over to Kemsa, for distribution in at least 22 high malaria endemic areas and are expected to benefit at least 23 million people.

Despite losing the tender in favour of an international supplier, Kemsa lost revenue in form of interest for the procurement.

For this particular tender the authority was to earn 2, 3, and 5 per cent, which translates to Sh74 million, Sh111 million and Sh185 million, respectively.

The two percent is money earned for the procurement process, while the three and five percent is meant for warehouse and distribution fee.

According to the source, first batch of the mosquito nets will be supplied to Kisii, Homa Bay and Nyamira counties.

Change of specifications by Kemsa in the advertisement of the tender in local dailies did not sit well with the donor, resulting into its cancellation in favour of Wambo.Org.

The source said the Tanzanian manufacturer won the tender in a competitive process, and that the nets are of high quality.

“Though Kenya lost the tender, we currently do not have any local manufacturer who can meet Global Fund specification,” said the source.

The Tanzanian manufacturer, according to the source will supply the commodities alongside with the Presidential Malaria Initiative, under PEPFAR.

“Kenya is being supplied with mosquito nets by Global Fund and Presidential Malaria Initiative,” said the source.

The Sh3.7 billion mosquito nets tender led to sacking of Health Public Secretary Josephine Mburu by President William Ruto.

Ruto also suspended Kemsa CEO Terry Ramadhani and the entire board.

During the probe on the mosquito net tender the National Assembly and the Senate Committee of Health, it was revealed that the tendering process was interfered with by the Ministry of Health.

Global Fund Coordinator Stephen Muiruri told the Senate Health Committee chaired by Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago that changes in the specifications occurred at the Ministry of Health without consultations from the donor.

Muiruri, had appeared before the committee to shed light on what exactly happened, leading to cancellation of the tender in favour of Wambo.Org.

He told the committee that the Ministry of Health included the insecticide Piperonyl butoxide (PBO) despite it not having been part of the specification requirement.

Despite Global Fund having listed standard nets (pyrethroid) as their preference specification, Muiruri said Kemsa included PBO, a move that caused the donor to cancel the tender in favour of Wambo.Org.

Further, Muiruri said that Global Fund wrote a letter to Kemsa highlighting the required specifications, which was copied to the head of the Malaria Programme.

He revealed that the letter changed the specifications against the requirement of Global Fund which was written by the sacked PS Mburu.

After learning of the changes in the tendering process to include PBO, Muiruri said the Global Fund advised Kemsa not to follow the letter written by PS Mburu as it was not a requirement.

“We advised our agent not to follow a letter (PS’s) because as per Global Fund, we were to procure standard nets and not PBO,” Muiruri told the Senate committee in July.

“Global Fund has never procured PBOs,” he added.

Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) Director Patrick Kanyungo said none of the 17 bidders shortlisted at the preliminary stage qualified for the Sh3.7 billion tender.

Kanyugo noted that the bidders did not meet the pagination requirement.

Despite none of the bidders meeting the pagination qualifications, Kemsa still ended up awarding the Sh3.7 billion tender to Partec East Africa Limited.

Submission of the bidder was reported to have been against procurement requirements, which led to the cancellation of the tender in favour of an international supplier – Wambo.org.

Initially, Kemsa shortlisted 17 bidders for the tender, out of which, only five qualified for the tender at the preliminary evaluation and technical stages.

James Kamau, a health economist applauded the move to have the donor supply the commodities through a Tanzanian local manufacturer saying it will avoid graft witnessed in the procurement process.

“All we needed was mosquito nets, that delayed simply because of a lack of honesty in the procurement process. Global Fund should in future supply us with commodities for malaria, HIV and TB, simply because we have lost trust to the donor,” said Kamau.

Apart from the Sh3.7 billion mosquito net scandal, the Global Fund directed the Kenyan government to refund 1.3 USD, following the misappropriation of funds in the distribution of mosquito nets under the 2020/21 malaria programme.

According to an audit report by Global Fund, titled, "Summary of issues identified at the division of the national malaria program," the money was lost through overpayment, payment made without receipt, and exaggerated cost in mass camping exercises.

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