FACING CRISIS

Drugs shortage hits city health facilities over Sh309m Kemsa debt

The last batch of drugs was supplied in August last year

In Summary

• Residents forced to pay for medicine in private pharmacies.

• In December last year, the assembly allocated Sh384 million to clear Kemsa debt.

From left, KEMSA CEO John Munyu, UNICEF Kenya Representative Werner Schultink and KEMSA Operations Director Joshua Obell on their way to a tour of the KEMSA factory in Embakasi, Nairobi
SUPPLIES: From left, KEMSA CEO John Munyu, UNICEF Kenya Representative Werner Schultink and KEMSA Operations Director Joshua Obell on their way to a tour of the KEMSA factory in Embakasi, Nairobi
Image: FILE

Kemsa has stopped supplying drugs to Nairobi county health facilities over Sh309 million debt, putting thousands of patients at risk.

The last batch of drugs was supplied in August last year, the County Assembly Health committee heard on Tuesday.

The deputy director of medical services, Dr Irene Muchoki, said, "Our county hospitals only received drugs once this financial year. The issue is wanting." 

Patients have to dig deeper in their pockets to pay for drugs in private pharmacies.

The county says the demand for curative drugs is greater than for preventive drugs as those attending health facilities are already suffering.

The county set aside Sh747 million for health this financial year, the committee was told.

"Out of the Sh747 million, we used Sh70 million to pay Kemsa and that was when drugs were delivered to the health facilities in August. The remaining Sh677 million has not been spent," Muchoki said.

Kemsa debts have accrued since 2014. The parastatal drugs supplier has an agreement with counties that allows the devolved units to pay within 45 days after delivery.

Before the August delivery, Kemsa last supplied drugs to the city in February 2017. The supplies dried up due to non-payment. The two entities entered an agreement that the county would pay Sh30 million monthly to offset the accrued debt. It was terminated after City Hall defaulted.

In December last year, the assembly allocated Sh384 million for Kemsa in  the 2018/19 supplementary budget. 

Committee's chairman Peter Warutere said the assembly and the executive will work together to ensure the debt is paid.

"We are working on the payment formula so that the availability [of cash] can be guaranteed," he said.