Health Ministry opposes plan to end Kemsa monopoly


Health Ministry opposes plan to end Kemsa monopoly

The offices of the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority in the industrial area of ​​Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

The Ministry of Health has opposed plans to deprive the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa) of exclusive rights to sell drugs and medical kits to county and national health facilities.

Principal Health Secretary Susan Mochache told parliament that allowing counties to bypass Kemsa would lead to expensive drugs from private pharmaceutical companies and derail the achievement of universal health coverage (UHC).

Proposals to end Kemsa’s monopoly are contained in the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Amendment) Bill 2021, which seeks to change the law and give counties carte blanche to choose suppliers of medicines and supplies. medical kits.

“Kemsa is expected to remain the first point of call for the procurement, warehousing and distribution of health products and technologies (HPT) listed on the essential lists relevant to the County Referral Hospital,” PS said Thursday. Mochache to the Senate Health Committee.

She added that lawmakers should instead change the law to limit county allocations to pay debts owed to Kemsa.

The government’s opposition to the bill underscores its intention to protect Kemsa from losing its largest group of customers, which could hit its sales hard.

The Auditor General’s latest report shows that counties owed Kemsa 2.64 billion shillings in June 2019, double the amount owed by the Ministry of Health, highlighting the lucrative business Kemsa gets from decentralized units.

The ministry argues that maintaining the state agency as the sole supplier ensures stock availability despite distribution problems experienced by the pharmaceutical sector in recent years.

The bill was passed unanimously by senators during its second reading last month, signaling lawmakers’ desire to end the Kemsa monopoly, which has seen counties receive drugs expiring due to bureaucracy in drug distribution.

The agency is currently embroiled in a scandal over the purchase of Covid-19 kits which has reportedly resulted in losses estimated at billions of shillings, prompting President Uhuru Kenyatta to intervene by disbanding his senior leadership.

The Kenya Defense Force (KDF) and the National Youth Service (NYS) resumed operations last month, setting the stage for declaring redundancies or terminating the services of more than 900 agency staff.

Maria J. Book