Senate asks Kemsa not to supply drugs to counties over Sh3 billion debt

An assortment of KEMSA supplies. [Samson Wire, Standard]

Crisis looms in the health sector after the Senate Health Committee directed the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa) not to supply drugs to counties over Sh3 billion debt.

The committee asked Kemsa not to supply drugs to any county that will not have come up with a clear plan of clearing the debts owed in the next month after the Authority's acting CEO Andrew Mulwa said that some counties had up to six months arrears.

Dr Mulwa who was responding to a question by Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei said that out of the total Sh3.03 billion owed by counties Sh2.087 billion has been outstanding for more than three months which may cripple its operations.

“We have engaged the Council of Governors so as to ensure that the counties are able to clear the debt, Kemsa is currently facing challenges that will impede its ability to fulfil its mandate, that is why we want counties to pay us,” he said.

Narok Senator Ledama ole Kina asked Kemsa to change its strategy saying any county with more than 30 days debt should have its supply stopped since it was not its responsibility to accumulate huge debts that may cripple it.

Murang'a Senator Joseph Nyutu wondered how the authority manages to get more supplies with the huge debt owed to it by several agencies and asked it to be strict on debtors.

Mulwa noted that Kilifi county had the highest debt owed to Kemsa at Sh276 million, Nairobi (Sh243 million), Kakamega (Sh187 million), Tharaka Nithi (Sh150 million), Machakos (Sh117 million), Kwale (Sh116 million), Homa Bay (Sh104 million) and Vihiga (Sh94 million).

The CEO informed the committee that in response to the challenges Kemsa is been facing, they developed a comprehensive turnaround strategy that presents a clear roadmap for revitalising the supply chain processes, adopting a customer-centric approach and embracing technology.

“The authority is conducting a thorough review of all expenses to identify areas for cost reduction without compromising quality or efficiency, management has implemented cost-saving initiatives such as streamlining processes, optimizing resource allocation and reviewing existing supplier contracts to ensure value for money,” said Mulwa.