County bosses ask State to bail out ‘struggling’ Kemsa

Council of Governors Health Committee Chair Muthomi Njuki

Council of Governors Health Committee Chair Muthomi Njuki during the health sector induction seminar for County Directors of Health on May 8.

Photo credit: Evans Habil | Nation Media Group

The Council of Governors wants the national government to inject new life into the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa), saying it is dysfunctional and killing the universal health coverage dream.

Speaking in Mlolongo yesterday when he opened a five-day induction meeting for the 47 county medical directors, CoG health committee chairperson Muthomi Njuki said Kemsa is unable to supply drugs and medical equipment to counties.

He said the authority is currently carrying dead stock that was accumulated during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Kemsa is on its knees and its ripple effects are felt in the county. They are stocking masks and sanitisers that nobody is willing to buy. The government must move with speed to bail out the medical supplier,” said Mr Njuki.

The Tharaka-Nithi County governor termed Kemsa a “lesser evil” that counties must depend on as they avoid relying on private medical suppliers who have exorbitant prices.

“Last month, my county requested for insulin, which Kemsa does not have, from private suppliers. They charged Sh800 per unit whereas the same is supplied at Sh200 by Kemsa,” he said.

On the looming medical interns strike, Mr Njuki said the interns are not employees of the counties. He added that learning institutions are releasing into the market more medics than both levels of government can absorb.

“It is absurd for interns to threaten to strike. Who will be willing to employ such medics?,” he asked, adding that “the Ministry of Health ought to check the medical schools to reduce the number of the unemployed .”

He further took issue with the Health Ministry’s plan to increase the token payment to community health workers—from Sh2,500 to Sh5,000—saying the counties’ meagre resources can not accommodate this.

“Let the Ministry of Health liaise with the counties to come up with reliable health proposals and policies. Some of the proposals are unreliable,” said Mr Njuki.

He also reiterated the CoG commitment to collaborate with the National government to enhance health services at the county levels.

Medical Services Director, Preventive and Promotive Health, Dr Andrew Mulwa, said the government is addressing the teething problems in the Ministry of Health, including delayed medical supplies and the medics’ welfare to ensure seamless health services in both county and national government health facilities.