• Of the Sh1.3 billion owed by the ministry, Sh1.1 billion has been pending from 2015.
• Nairobi topped the list with a debt of Sh353 million, followed by Kilifi (Sh199.1 million), Kiambu (Sh141.6 million), Busia (Sh119.08 million) and Vihiga at Sh114.4 million.
Cash-strapped Kenya Medical Supplies Authority has pleaded with the Senate to help it recover Sh4.1 billion owed by the Ministry of Health and the counties.
Kemsa chief executive officer Jonah Manjari said the counties owe Sh2.8 billion, while the ministry has yet to clear Sh1.3 billion.
Of the Sh1.3 billion owed by the ministry, Sh1.1 billion has been pending from 2015.
Manjari made the disclosures before the Senate Health committee, which sought to know the authority’s preparedness and ability to supply all the counties in the wake of the planned rollout of the Universal Health Coverage.
"We ask support from the Senate in debt collection and we hope that individual senators can have interactions with their counties for intervention,” Manjari implored the committee.
The committee chaired by Senator Michael Mbito (Trans Nzoia) tasked the authority to table before it the list of counties it has categorised as “notorious” and hence risky to deliver medical products.
The authority had disclosed a similar figure of debt as of January, with Nairobi, Kilifi, Kiambu and Turkana being some of those with huge debts.
Nairobi topped the list with a debt of Sh353 million, followed by Kilifi (Sh199.1 million), Kiambu (Sh141.6 million), Busia (Sh119.08 million) and Vihiga at Sh114.4 million.
The Senate committee further demanded to know how the debts by the Ministry of Health had accrued to more than Sh1 billion.
"MoH and Kemsa have an agreement for ‘fees for service’. Under this arrangement, if they ask us to procure, for instance, nutritional components, we bill them for procurement, warehousing and distribution,” Manjari said.
During Senator Beth Mugo’s tenure as Minister for Public Health and Sanitation between 2008 and 2013, Kemsa was funded by the World Bank.
The authority still uses the capital as a revolving fund alongside internally generated funds to support its operations, as it does not receive allocations from the national purse.
The ballooning debts, therefore, would inadvertently have an effect on the smooth operations of the authority, which is the sole supplier of county hospitals.
Committee vice chairman Abdullahi Ali (Wajir) took Kemsa to task over the 30 per cent shortfall of medical products that it is unable to supply.
The Council of Governors had in previous engagements cited the shortfall as a stumbling block to the success of the Universal Health Coverage.
“We fulfil unsupplied product orders, through back orders, which are processed within the shortest time possible. On this, we work closely with Unicef and MEDS [Mission for Essential Drugs and Supplies] and any product that was not available is given through the back order,” Manjari said.
Also in attendance were senators Mugo (nominated), Okong’o Omogeni (Nyamira), Naomi Shiyonga (nominated), Fred Outa (Kisumu), Falhada Iman (nominated), Nderitu Kinyua (Nyandarua), Petronilla Lokorio (nominated) and Mutula Kilonzo Jr (Makueni).
(Edited by F'Orieny)