RESTRICTION HURTS SERVICES

Amend law to allow counties to buy drugs from other suppliers, MPs told

The county and national governments have been buying medicines from the Kenya Medical Supplies Association

In Summary

• Out of 183 facilities in the county, 120 have no drugs and patients are requested to purchase drugs from private chemistry.

• The county governments have been buying medicines from the Kenya Medical Supplies Association

West Pokot leaders have urged the National Assembly and the Senate to amend the law governing the purchase of drugs.

Health executive Geoffrey Lipale on Thursday said the law restricts counties to purchase drugs from one supplier and this has hurt service delivery in health facilities. He spoke at Konyao health facility.

This comes after a section of leaders from the county complained about lack of drugs in most health centres. The county governments have been buying medicines from the Kenya Medical Supplies Association only.

Lipale said of their 183 facilities, 120 have no drugs and patients are requested to buy from private chemists. He said Kemsa has no capacity to supply drugs and other medical equipment to all health facilities across the country.

The county has ordered for drugs worth Sh61 million but they got a reply from the supplier that they can only supply drugs worth Sh48 million.

"It’s now three weeks since we ordered our drugs... We have subjected our patients to torture. Many people have also lost lives," he said.

He said the county faces disease outbreaks if swift action is not taken to fix the problem.

"This facility ... has only paracetamol and Amoxyln that cannot last two days. This facility is a few kilometres from the border. In case a diseases strikes, we'll lose many people," he said.

Lipale said their hands are tied as they cannot violate the law to buy drugs from other dealers.

"Those in leadership fear to go to jail for violating the law. This has forced many patients to seek services from private hospitals," he said.

"The law is against monopoly. I wonder why the two houses restricted counties to only purchase drugs from one supplier."

He said 80 per cent of drugs should be procured from Kemsa and 20 per cent from other suppliers in case of emergencies.

"Those who enacted the law come from the villages. Why enact laws that hurt people you represent?" he said.

Lipale wants lawmakers prosecuted for murder over the deaths in government facilities.

"I wonder why they enacted the law without considering the welfare of many Kenyans," he said.

He also urged the Council of Governors to intervene and ensure counties get drugs on time.  

(Edited by F'Orieny)