Governors applaud Kemsa reforms


Kericho Governor Paul Chepkwony, Narok Governor Samuel Ole Tunai, Embu Governor and Council of Governors chairperson Martin Wambora and Vihiga Governor Wilber Otichilo during a press briefing on October 18, 2021. Photo courtesy

By: Angela Maina  @MountKenyaTimes

The Council of Governors has welcomed the move from the government to reform the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa).

CoG through its Chair Martin Wambora said that the changes must be made to ensure the institution effectively serves counties in the procurement and supply of pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical products.

In a statement yesterday, the County bosses want to be enjoined in the management of the national medical supplies agency.

They want KEMSA to be established and structured as a joint entity of both the National and County governments, which will be answerable to both.

In a statement Tuesday, the governors aver that procurement and distribution of health products needs to be restructured in a way that it aligns with devolution.

“Essentially, the Constitution assigned health functions to both the National Government and the County Governments. While delivery of most of the essential health services is assigned to County Governments, the role of the National Government in the delivery of health services is restricted to National referral health facilities,” Wambora noted.

The Embu governor also says COG plans to engage the national government to find Alternative Health Providers to ensure an uninterrupted supply of quality health commodities to the Counties’ Health facilities.

Counties have in recent year’s sustained pressure on the government to allow them to procure medical supplies directly from independent suppliers, claiming that KEMSA has been unable to make timely deliveries.

KEMSA is at the moment steeped in litigation after the government made attempts to effect some changes in management.

Reforms

Last week, Kemsa ordered all its non-core staff to work from home for a period of 30 days.

Mary Mwadime, KEMSA Chairperson, said the action was taken following animosity at the largest medical supply entity, over graft-related issues.

But three days later, it emerged that members of the staff sent to work from home were locked out of the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system.

The Kenya Defence Force (KDF) has since taken over operations at Kemsa, a week after non-core staffers were asked to work from home.

At least 40 military officers reported at KEMSA headquarters at the weekend and joined a team that had reported earlier from the National Youth Service (NYS).

However, the Employment and Labour Relations Court temporarily suspended the takeover until a case filed by the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union is heard and determined.

The court also stopped KEMSA from sacking employees pending determination of the matter in court.

At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, Kenyans woke up to a realisation that their national medical supplies agency, was reeling from a regrettable corruption scandal.

The days that followed saw a national outcry and the reconstitution of the Board of Directors. At the inauguration, the Board was tasked to oversee a rapid results programme that would facilitate a transformation.

Board assures reforms

The National Assembly Parliamentary Committee on Health has implored stakeholders affiliated with the KEMSA to extend the necessary support to the Authority’s Board and Management as organizational restructuring efforts get underway.

Health Committee Chair Sabina Chege, speaking at the Nairobi Serena Hotel after a closed-door briefing session with the KEMSA Board Members, expressed the Committee’s satisfaction with the Reforms Plan drawn up by the KEMSA board.

Flanked by Ministry of Health Principal Secretary Susan Mochache and members of the Committee, Chege discounted reports that the Military and related security agencies had taken over KEMSA.

The KEMSA Board, led by Chairperson Mary Mwadime, reiterated that the Authority is undertaking normal operations guided by a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) which was formulated and executed before the release of non-core staff home.

The Board, she said, is firmly in control through providing policy oversight and is working closely with a core Management Team assisted by a multi-agency team drawn from public sector experts. The multi-agency operations team is handling logistics, human resource management, quality assurance, physical and information security, among other dockets.

“We are comfortable to hear that the Board is in full control. The whole issue about the Military and NYS that has been flying around we have been assured is misguided,” Chege said. “As a committee, we have asked the Board to take care of the employees and ensure that due process is followed, even as the restructuring gets underway.”

While imploring stakeholders to support the Board in the restructuring process, the Health Committee further appealed to County Governments owing KEMSA to settle their debts.

The Authority, she said, is reeling under a massive debt load occasioned by a delay in paying outstanding debts for medical supplies already delivered by KEMSA to several counties.

The Committee, she said, had also expressed its concern on the management stability, asking the Board to consider filling the positions currently held by acting Managers substantively.

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