Ministry told to clarify role of Unicef in procurement of Covid-19 PPE

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What you need to know:

  • Members of the Senate Health Committee demanded to know why the ministry procured PPE, face masks and others from Unicef.
  • Ms Mochache requested the Senate team for more time as the lawmakers expressed fears that taxpayers may have lost money.

Lawmakers want the Ministry of Health to explain why it bypassed the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa) during the procurement of Covid-19 protective gear but instead awarded the tender directly to a UN agency.

Procuring of pharmaceuticals and medical equipment is a Kemsa function.

Members of the Senate Health Committee demanded to know why the ministry procured personal protective equipment, face masks and others from Unicef.

Committee chairman Michael Mbito told Principal Secretary Susan Mochache to provide details of the amount Unicef was paid and what was supplied.

“We want to know why the ministry bypassed Kemsa and even chose on the items to be procured,” Mr Mbito said.

More time

Ms Mochache requested the Senate team for more time as the lawmakers expressed fears that taxpayers may have lost money.

“Allow us to give you comprehensive report with exact details. The ministry does not procure directly and what we got was in very small quantities. Even counties and some ministry facilities have found themselves buying items directly,” Ms Mochache said.

The PS added that the procurement was done using the initial Sh1 billion given to the country by the World Bank to combat the pandemic.

She said Unicef and Kemsa got Sh750 million to procure protective gear.

“This was an emergency and we can’t procure without getting approval from the World Bank. Bank officials have to look at it before giving us a go-ahead. The same is the case when paying for the items procured,” Ms Mochache said.

Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) chief executive officer Twalib Mbarak had earlier said that individuals and institutions taking advantage of emergencies like Covid-19 to flout procurement laws would face the law.

“This is a message to those involved. We are monitoring the spending of the coronavirus funds,” Mr Mbarak spoke at a past Covid-19 emergency response fund board event at Kenyatta International Convention Centre.

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