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Turkana considering manufacturing medical supplies to counter Kemsa delays

Turkana County Chief Officer (CO) Dr. Malcolm Lochodo. [Lucas Ngasike, Standard]

The Turkana Health department has announced plans to roll out the manufacture of its own fast-moving medical supplies.

Health Chief officer Dr Malcolm Lochodo said Turkana Health Products and Technologies Unit (HPTU) will produce detergents and sanitiser to reduce over-reliance on the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa).

Dr Lochodo said the production of medical supplies will be a cost-cutting measure following a slash of the health budgets by the Treasury.

Lodwar County Referral Hospital (LCRH) has been facing a shortage of drugs. The situation is attributed to delays by Kemsa to distribute medical supplies due to restrictions on county hospitals purchasing drugs outside Kemsa.

The shortage had forced residents to buy medicine from private clinics and pharmacies at high costs.

The LCRH had in the past faced shortages of essential drugs, gloves, paracetamol, and oxytocin.

The Health chief officer said the HPTU directorate was established by Governor Josphat Nanok as per a policy advisory from the Health department.

“We have the experience and expertise to manufacture and digitisation of supplies in Turkana. This is part of a cost-cutting measure,” Dr Lochodo said when he addressed health practitioners at a seminar in Lodwar.

Dr Lochodo said more input is needed to train HPTU staff to improve efficiency.

HPTU director Dr Epem Esekon said the unit will help in the consolidation of medical needs and fast-track acquisition of health products.

Dr Esekon said the county has sent samples of products to Kemsa laboratories and they are awaiting approval before rolling out the programme.

“The unit prioritised rational drug use through digital stock control measures despite budget deficits.”

He added: “The manufacturing process will start upon approval from the Public Health laboratory after successful trials at the LCRH during the Covid-19 pandemic period.”

Dr Esekon said the unit will work closely with partners to address gaps identified by independent assessment of the Unit.

Residents have raised eyebrows over the rollout of the HPTU, saying there are suspicious deals to embezzle funds since there was no public participation conducted.