Kebs officials ‘supplied Covid-19 kits’

Kebs CEO Bernard Njiraini.


Photo credit: Jeff Angote | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Linturi said he was aware that Ms Mary Wanja, a committee member at Kebs was one of the directors at Angelica Medical Supplies.
  • The company sold personal protective equipment, face masks, ventilators and syringe pumps patient monitor among other items to Kemsa.
  • It is the same company that also supplied dialysis machines to 94 hospitals countrywide in the Medical Equipment Services .

The Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) is on the spot after it emerged that some of its board members supplied Covid-19 materials. 

During a virtual meeting with the Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Covid-19, Meru Senator Mithika Linturi said he was aware that Ms Mary Wanja, a committee member at Kebs and one of the directors at Angelica Medical Supplies that sold personal protective equipment, face masks, ventilators and syringe pumps patient monitor among other items to the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa).

Angelica Medical Supplies supplied items worth Sh307 million to Kemsa. It is the same company that also supplied dialysis machines to 94 hospitals countrywide in the Medical Equipment Services (MES).

A report by the committee investigating Sh63 billion MES scandal also noted in its report tabled last week that Kemsa did not follow the correct procedure in giving the tender to Angelica Medical Supplies.

“Kemsa’s decision to undertake direct procurement, resulted in deliberately monopolising the market for reagents and consumables in favour of Angelica Medical Supplies Ltd,” reads the report.

Direct procurement

Despite going for direct procurement, the committee notes that Kemsa did not get the best price for the consumables and reagents from the firm because it did not establish whether the products could be sourced at more competitive rates from other suppliers.

“Could you kindly tell this committee if some of your board members are the same people who have registered companies that are supplying items to the Ministry of Health?” Narok senator Ledama Ole Kina asked Kebs boss Bernard Njiraini.

Mr Njiraini had appeared before the committee to answer questions among them, if the goods were safe and met Kebs standards.

Mr Ledama alleged that some of the board members had an interest in supplying the Covid-19 items and this had led to the removal of the Pharmacy and Poison Board (PPB) inspectors to ensure that they did not check the safety and quality of the items.

Wajir senator Abdullahi Ali said the removal of the PPB was a corruption scheme to allow certain individuals to import things without being inspected.

“The board is a medical institution and when they are not allowed to do their job then the obvious comes into play. Why would they request permission to inspect goods that come into the country yet there is a state agency mandated to do that? We need to dig more and find out what was the rationale of removing the PPB inspectors,” he said.

Appointment of board members

Mr Njiraini defended the appointment of board members saying that it is the prerogative of the Ministry of Health.

The senators also questioned why the Pharmacy and Poisons Board (PPB) was kicked out from the ports of entry, claiming that it was a blatant scheme to allow some well-connected individuals to do dubious business with Kemsa officials.

The PPB inspectors were kicked out of the port compromising the safety and quality of imported goods.

Appearing before the committee on Tuesday, PPB chief executive Fred Siyoi told senators that the agency is no longer allowed to operate at the port.

Mr Siyoi told the Sylvia Kasanga-led committee that a consignment of hand sanitisers made its way into the local market without their approval.

“This has greatly hampered our work at the ports of entry. We now rely heavily on post market surveillance activities. Unhindered intervention at the ports of entry remains critical in safeguarding public health,” Dr Siyoi told the committee.

The absence of the PPB at the port of entry now means that the agency has to wait for the goods to be delivered to the market and before conducting safety and quality tests on the products.


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