What you need to know:
- Change of board members at Kemsa will not be solving the ills that bedevil the ministry.
- Parliament is only chasing its tail with belated oversight of Kemsa or is that buying time for culprits?
It’s a mystery as to why the international community continues to donate medicine to us despite our lack of gratitude. When it comes to foreign aid, we feel so entitled that we can decide to bite the hand that feeds us without any ramifications from domestic law.
The ministry of health has proved it is rudderless, lacking in commitment and totally devoid of compassion. There is no government system in place there but dubious firms within firms seem to operate. It boggles the mind as to how a ministry staffed to the hilt with medics would fail to know of drugs and equipment in its custody until the media highlights them.
Change of board members at Kemsa will not be solving the ills that bedevil the ministry either. Lack of involvement in the biggest heist of Covid-19 funds at Kemsa by both the Directorate of Criminal Investigation and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission is a grave mistake. Parliament is only chasing its tail with belated oversight of Kemsa or is that buying time for culprits? If they had their eye on the ball, Kemsa would not have come to this unimaginable rot. It’s meaningless for them to oversight after the horse has bolted.
Criminal investigations do not need to be delayed because Parliament is doing what it ought to have done years before. It is just stymieing the work of the criminal justice system and EACC, who need to be leading investigations and bring to justice the latest cartels behind theft of Covid-19 funds.
Lack of involvement by the criminal justice system in what appears to be blatant theft of public funds is suspicious. They are the experts who should have moved in from the beginning and secured the crime scene that is Kemsa headquarters and got on with their investigations and prosecutions where necessary. With the new board members, the evidence is most likely going to be diluted even further if not altogether disappeared.
What has come out to light, despite being proactive in facilitating tenderpreneurship and losing donation of Covid-19 funds with impunity, Kemsa was in fact not doing what it essentially should have been doing. Distributing drugs that were donated to the country or handling drugs in their custody with requisite care.
It is baffling that there were banned drugs in their stores, which they promised to destroy, that they unashamedly redistributed two years later to unsuspecting citizens. Redistribution of ARV drugs such as banned Nevirapine by Kemsa is not only inhumane but criminal. To put the health of Kenyans at risk by allowing use of banned medication intentionally amounts to biological assault. Would the sword fall on anyone?
Departments within the ministry have been implicated in surreal allegations and that it only takes a narcissist not to be shocked. This is a ministry under whose watch blood donations made by compassionate Kenyans ended up being sold in the black market. It has left drugs meant for children at the airport warehouse for years until they expired.
One wonders whether there is a system in place to counter such avoidable negligence or if indeed there are officials in charge at all. Incidentally, no one was charged for the disappearance of blood from the blood banks or for letting children’s crucial medicine expire. With such inaction at the ministry, who is the government fooling that it is fighting corruption?
Instead of being self-critical with a view to improving on its structures, the country apportions blame elsewhere. Kenya should be ashamed for stopping the US from distributing their drugs donation with a firm of their choice. The problem lies with corrupt Kemsa. No one would be foolish enough to want to lose resources they intend for the poor to cartels at Kemsa.
While government officials in the donor community work hard to donate medication, our officials are implicated in double dealing with drugs, equipment and financial donations at Kemsa. Like most African countries, Kenya has abrogated healthcare for the poor to the donors and throws tantrums like a spoilt child when reprimanded for corruption. Only in Africa.
It’s the responsibility of the State to provide healthcare and indeed medication. It is also their responsibility to ensure that any donations meant for the citizens are distributed as quickly and as required. Once the donations are made and arrive in the country, all we needed to do is to put them in lorries and get them to patients as fast as possible. Either that is proving a difficult job, or cartels put buffers to make a killing out of desperation. I will not put anything past cartels in suits.
If the ministry wants to win public trust, then it must start a serious clean-up of most of its departments known for corruption. Kenyans are not lacking in care for lack of hospitals but medical resources that end up in the hands of cartels. For how long is the country going to stand by as thieves at the ministry send Kenyans to early graves?
Ms Guyo is a legal researcher. email@example.com. @kdiguyo