State urged to allocate Kemsa more resources
The Treasury has been challenged to inject fresh capital to improve the capacity of the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa) to meet the growing demand for drugs and medical equipment.
The call came as the government prepares to launch the Universal Health Coverage and primary health care programme on Mashujaa Day next month.
Should the health sector reforms be implemented, the 9,822 health facilities across the country will need adequate stocks of drugs for common illnesses.
Demand for these drugs and other health services is expected to grow because treatment will be free once the system is rolled out.
Addressing journalists in Mombasa, Tharaka Nithi Governor Muthomi Njuki, who also chairs the health committee of the Council of Governors, said there has been an increase in demand for drugs and other medical supplies in counties as the devolved governments race to improve health services, hence the need for increased funding to Kemsa.
“We need to recapitalise Kemsa if the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) is to benefit all Kenyans,” Njuki said at a meeting with editors.
A source at Kemsa told People Daily that the authority will be asking the Treasury to inject between Sh2 billion and Sh5 billion as fresh capital for it to ramp up its operations.
According to the authority’s CEO Andrew Mulwa, counties owe it over Sh2.9 billion.
Mulwa was hired in May to turn around the agency that lost over Sh2 billion during the Covid-19 pandemic when it bought supplies and equipment to fight the pandemic at inflated prices. Earlier in this year, the Cabinet authorised Kemsa to sell the supplies at a loss.
“If the counties can pay, we would not need the new capital,” a senior officer at the authority said yesterday.
Although it has been making payments to Kemsa, Nairobi County still owes it the highest amount at Sh243 million. It is followed by Homa Bay (Sh104 million) and Busia County (Sh82.1 million).
“Some counties have accumulated bad debts,” Mulwa said, lamenting that some of the money owed was for drugs bought over five years ago.
Among the counties with bad debts are Nakuru (Sh53.9 million), Trans Nzoia (Sh49 million), Kisumu County (Sh32 million), Mombasa (Sh13.6 million) and Nyamira (Sh9.1 million).
Njuki blamed delayed release of funds from Treasury to counties for some of the pending bills.
However, Mulwa said some counties have signed Memoranda of Understanding with the drugs agency to clear their outstanding debts. The authority targets to have all counties sign similar commitments.
According to him, some counties also failed to provide sufficient budgets for health services, making it difficult for them to pay for life-saving drugs and critical equipment they bought on credit as these were not factored in in their budgets.
“Counties need a vote or budget for pending bills,” said Mulwa, who was appointed CEO in May with the mandate of turning around the authority, which owes its suppliers Sh3.3 billion.