PATIENTS GO TO PRIVATE FACILITIES

Crisis hits city as county hospitals run out of drugs

City Hall owes millions of shillings in pending bills to the Kenya Medical Supply Authority.

In Summary
  • Umoja One MCA Mark Mugambi on Tuesday raised the alarm through a statement.
  • He inquired from the assembly’s committee on health regarding delayed medical supplies to county health facilities.
Patients at Mukuru kwa Reuben Level 3 Hospital on August 13, 2021
Patients at Mukuru kwa Reuben Level 3 Hospital on August 13, 2021
Image: WILFRED NYANGERESI

Nairobi residents are staring at a health crisis due to the lack of drugs in county hospitals.

City Hall owes millions of shillings in pending bills to the Kenya Medical Supply Authority.

Umoja One MCA Mark Mugambi on Tuesday raised the alarm through a statement. He inquired from the assembly’s committee on health regarding delayed medical supplies to county health facilities, especially in his ward.

There have been concerns from the residents regarding the unpredictable medical supplies and out-of-stock essential drugs, and unending delays of drugs to county public health centres and dispensaries," he said.

Mugambi said patients were forced to turn to private hospitals, which many cannot afford due to the harsh economic times in the county.

Cases of patients buying drugs have become the order of the day as those who are unable to buy are left with no choice but to suffer and eventually die,” he added.

Consequently, the assembly’s health committee was tasked to inquire into and report on the reasons county hospitals are unable to get medical supplies.

The committee should also report on how the county has planned its procurement procedures, including any necessary adjustments made to ensure adequate stocks of essential drugs are supplied or sourced from Kemsa.

Also, the committee should give timelines within which medical supplies shall be available in all county health centres and dispensaries to cater for the increasing demand.

Honourable Speaker, the committee should highlight efforts being initiated by Nairobi Metropolitan Services and the county executive to ensure harmonised and sustained synergy with Kemsa and other agencies to manage current and future bottlenecks that affect the provision of quality healthcare services in the county,” Mugambi said.

In May, the county assembly through a supplementary budget allocated Sh374.9 million to clear a debt owed Kemsa.

When reached for comment, County Assembly Finance, Budget and Appropriation Committee Chairperson said the money was paid but they are yet to get the documents from the executive.

NMS director of health services Ouma Oluga admitted the health facilities in Nairobi have a shortage of drugs.

This is a very big challenge because we barely have anything. Hopefully, it will be sorted soonest as it’s of urgency,” he said.

He said the Sh374.9 million paid to Kemsa was money owed to the authority by NMS.

He said Kemsa wants pending bills from City Hall cleared as well, which had accumulated before NMS came into office.

However, it was not mentioned how much City Hall owes Kemsa.

On our side, NMS has paid all its Kemsa bills. But now Kemsa insists that we must clear the previous Nairobi county government bills too,” Oluga added.

Kemsa and City Hall have had bad ties in the past over arrears.

In 2017, the authority stopped supplying medicine to Nairobi hospitals over a Sh285 million debt, forcing patients to buy drugs and other medical supplies from private hospitals and chemists.

It took the intervention of President Uhuru Kenyatta and the former Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki for Kemsa to resume supplies to the county last year.

In March 2019, the Nairobi county government announced it was considering turning to other drugs suppliers to stock its health centres, accusing Kemsa of being unreliable.

Former Governor Mike Sonko said his administration would seek alternative sources, which he did not mention, following constant rows with Kemsa over Sh300 million pending bills.

In May the same year, the county government said it would purchase drugs from private suppliers after Kemsa suspended supplies because of Sh284 million debt.

The last order by the county government and the last dispatch was made in October 2019 and was to last three months.

Edited by Henry Makori