Following the Covid-19 outbreak, the Kenyan government has ordered all county governments not to buy drugs from other agencies but the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority. Now the country is subjected to a severe deficit of drugs since Kemsa cannot meet all counties’ needs. Kemsa has turned down most of the drug requests leaving millions of patients to the rescue of private clinics and chemists. According to the statement given by the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority. They do not have the competence to supply reagents for laboratories as well as necessary antibiotics.
Kenya Medical Supply Authority Act
According to the constitution, the Kemsa board is supposed to approve the money to be used by the county government, although it is theirs. Following the 2013 Kemsa Act, amended in May 2019. Anyone who defies going by the decree is to be jailed or penalized–two million Kenya shillings. In November last year, Port Reitz, one of the largest hospitals in Mombasa county, helping more than one million people, receives a letter from Kemsa board saying they are out of stock and they are not in place to ship the requested drugs.
Furthermore, Jonah Manjari, the Kemsa CEO, signs a letter saying the situation is awful. It would be best if they consider temporary measures. Similarly, Nakuru Level Five Hospital, which enrolls more than five million patients, receives a letter attached to their drugs requested list, saying the products were unavailable. Now the hospital administration is complaining of inadequate drug supply.
The call for independence
Sometime back, Kemsa offered around seventy percent of the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) money. Estimated to be billions, but people did not get the aid. They were supposed to provide counties with medicine. So far, only Isiolo and Nyeri have received their share on time, but areas like Machakos and Kisumu have not. As a result of this, the council of governors has filed a case on the legality of the bill. The governors say that health is vital for their counties, and they have the right to run their health systems independently.
Dependency and capacity
The county governments used to order medicine from the Kemsa board and pay for them as well, but that does not meet their need, so they have no option but to reach out to other sources for medical assistance. Now the rule bans them from buying medication from the same sources. Notably, that is not clear why the government should deny the counties from spending their money. To prove how the situation at the ground has worsened, the Kemsa board is confident that they cannot satisfy all of the counties’ needs. Mostly, Kemsa says it is out laboratory supplies, although the management is doing whatever it can to solve the matter.
The Kemsa board states that it does not question the rule from the national government. The restrictions are to ensure Kenyans do not purchase expired medicine or that is not good for use. At the moment, the county executives for health say they have given the government together with the Ministry of Health a month to act right. Although we are experiencing hard times, let’s not tear each other apart, patience and commitment is a significant aspect to conquer this situation.