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With better facilities, deaths are avoidable

OPINION
By ELIZABETH MWAI | February 10th 2016

Watching Kenyans queuing to access health-care services at public health facilities fills my heart with bile. As if this is not enough, after being attended to by the doctor, they are again required to line up at the pharmacy for hours only to be told by the pharmacy attendants that the medicines prescribed are unavailable.

After all this trouble, the hapless patients are normally sent to private pharmacies where they pay through the nose for the prescribed drugs. Your guess regarding the fate of those without money to purchase the drugs is as good as mine.

Consequently, the question that begs an answer is this; aren’t counties allocated enough resources for the purchase of medicines and other requisite stores for their public health facilities?

This despite the fact that Kenyans pay heavy taxes to have these facilities constructed or rehabilitated to provide the much-needed care. What decision makers ought to understand is that access to quality healthcare is a constitutional right.

While it is understandable that for integrity and transparency purposes procurement processes ought to apply to their fullest in making these purchases, poor health is a matter of life and death.

Due consideration ought to be given to the patient as no one understands where the shoe pinches most than its wearer. Delayed treatment more often than not translates into death or continued poor quality of life.

County governments must therefore find a more effective way of ensuring continuous and uninterrupted medical commodities supply for the sake of the citizens, who have entrusted them with their well-being. An ailing nation begets an unhealthy nation; a poor state with no hopes of prosperity. County governments should consult widely and identify reliable medical logistical providers, who they can count on for quality, affordability and reliability.

A reliable provider must put the interest of Kenyans first through modest pricing. They should be ready to reach the remotest part of the country using any available means to deliver the much-needed medical supplies and most importantly, must ensure that the quality of medicines strictly meets globally accepted standards as set out by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

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The supplier must invest in research to understand the market demands and stock appropriately such that when called upon, the response is immediate and precise.

The Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (KEMSA) has in the recent times cut the cloth to fit all sizes. KEMSA has put in place a comprehensive quality assurance system spanning throughout the supply chain with an in-house quality control laboratory with modern equipment and qualified personnel.

The new Cabinet Secretary for Health, Dr Cleopa Mailu, was impressed by the capability and capacity of the KEMSA Quality Laboratory in the Embakasi Supply Chain Centre. This in-house system guarantees the quality of medical commodities KEMSA procures from the manufacturer or supplier to the end user.

KEMSA's quality assurance department also works in collaboration with the National Quality Control Laboratory and other quality bodies like Kenya Bureau of Standards in the furtherance of the quality of medical commodities. So counties need not worry about quality of medical commodities from KEMSA it is assured.

Besides paying attention to quality, KEMSA also ensures the medical commodities counties require reach the facilities on time. Though KEMSA operates on a not-for-profit business model, it remains true to its cause by charging a standard and modest distribution fee irrespective of facilities' location.

Being a Government firm, sometimes sceptics will doubt KEMSA’s turnaround time, but numbers do not lie. Over 90 percent of counties are utilising KEMSA medical logistics services to replenish stocks in their public health facilities. For all that Kenyans want is a medical provider who can offer reliable services, and counties must fulfill this obligation.

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