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Nairobi public hospitals face drugs shortage

By Josphat Thiong'o | August 1st 2016
Mama Lucy Kibaki Hospital- Nairobi

Public hospitals in Nairobi are facing an acute shortage of drugs. This is after a State agency cancelled supplies over non-payment of a Sh150 million debt.

Health Committee Chairman Manoah Mboku said major county health facilities such as Mbagathi, Mama Lucy Kibaki and Mutuini hospitals were currently facing a drugs shortage.

Mr Mboku accused the county treasury of failing to prioritise payment of the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa) debt, saying it was instead interested in procurement of vehicles for county administrators.

He further demanded to know the status of the money set aside for free maternity services, saying most facilities lacked adequate equipment to carry out the services.

“It is very sad a nurse can call me to send her Sh1,000 so that she can buy gloves yet money was allocated to help with the deliveries. I am also informed that patients are being turned away at some hospitals because health personnel lack the equipment to treat them,” added Mboku.

Last month, Nairobi residents had to grapple with shortage of drugs following a decision by Kemsa to terminate its supply following a Sh108 million debt, which has since risen to Sh150 million. The agency turned off its supply lines after City Hall failed to act within the 45-day grace period for debt clearance.


Pumwani is the leading public maternity hospital in the city while Mama Lucy and Mbagathi are hospitals of choice mainly for low-income earners. Kemsa accounts for over 65 per cent of the drugs procured by county hospitals.

Health Executive Bernard Muia, however, dismissed the claims of drugs shortage, saying that the situation was not as dire as Mboku had put it.

Muia said some of the facilities had been relying on improvement funds to buy basic drugs and that the county was working to adopt new measures to address the drugs shortage.

“I am following up with the payment process to Kemsa so that they can resume the supply of drugs to our facilities,” said Muia.

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