TAKING CONTROL

Governors may manage Kemsa in proposed law

The new changes, proposed by nominated Senator Mary Seneta, will amend the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority Act 2013.

In Summary

•The changes also require Health Cabinet Secretary to consult governors before making any regulations touching on Kemsa. 

•This will be a major relief for counties, who were forced, in an earlier amendment to Kemsa Act last year, to procure medical supplies through the authority.

Kemsa warehouse in Embakasi, Nairobi.
LIFE-SAVING DRUGS: Kemsa warehouse in Embakasi, Nairobi.
Image: FILE

Governors will sit on the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority board, in a proposed law to check the influence of the national government. 

Currently, counties are the main clients of Kemsa but have no say in its management.

In 2017, counties procured medical supplies worth Sh4.8 billion through the authority, and have been pushing to sit on the board.

The new changes, proposed by nominated Senator Mary Seneta, will amend the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority Act 2013.

The changes also require Health Cabinet Secretary to consult governors before making any regulations touching on Kemsa. 

The proposals are contained in the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2018, which last week moved to the third reading in the Senate.

The council of governors will have two representatives on the board of directors, according to the Bill.

"The proposals seek to have the voice of counties represented in the board since the amount of business the counties are likely to generate for the authority is high and therefore only fair for the counties to have a say in the board of the authority," said Seneta.

This will be a major relief for counties, who were forced, in an earlier amendment to Kemsa Act last year, to procure medical supplies through the authority.

"The Bill proposes to amend section 21 of the Act to provide that the council (of governors) must be consulted before the Cabinet Secretary makes any regulations under the act," says a statement of the objects and reasons for the current Bill.

However, Kemsa is facing a crisis over delayed payments of more than Sh2 billion by county governments, since last year.

In the proposed law, counties will have drawing rights, with the authority possibly robbed of its rights to suspend their accounts. 

In April this year, Kemsa suspended accounts of five counties that had not cleared their debts.

Nairobi led the pack with a Sh208 million debt, which the city county is refusing to pay. 

The devolved units have an agreement with Kemsa to pay in 45 days after the delivery of medical supplies.

Other counties in debt in April were Makueni (Sh163 million), Homa Bay (Sh138 million), Narok (Sh105 million), Kitui (Sh94 million), Kiambu (Sh95 million) and Turkana (Sh96 million).

Kemsa and churches-owned Mission for Essential Drugs and Supplies (Meds) are the main suppliers of medicines to counties. 

Meds is also struggling with debts from counties. Early this year, Justice Kanyi Kimondo ordered Murang'a county government to pay Meds Sh28 million and interest for drugs supplied in 2015 and 2016.

In March, Taita Taveta admitted it was unable to procure drugs from Kemsa or Meds because of debts.