In Summary
  • Counties in the region owe Kemsa more than Sh300 million, which has seen some of them cut off drug supply
  • Kemsa has stopped supplying drugs to Taita-Taveta over the debt.
  • In Kwale, sources said the county is working on their Sh64.85 million debt accrued the last one month.

Major hospitals in the Coast have been hit by an acute shortage of drugs, putting thousands of lives at risk.

Counties in the region owe the Kenya Medical Supplies Agency (Kemsa) more than Sh300 million, which has seen some of them cut off drug supply.

In total, 44 counties owe the agency Sh2.8 billion. Data compiled by the Nation shows that as at the end of September, Kilifi led with the highest debt of Sh140 million, followed by Taita-Taveta at Sh75.9 million, Kwale at Sh66.27 million and Lamu at Sh44.78 million.

DEBT

Mombasa had a debt of Sh15.14 million, while Tana River was the only county from the region that didn’t owe the drug agency any monies.

Kemsa has stopped supplying drugs to Taita-Taveta over the debt. Mission for Essential Drugs and Supplies and Lancet, which are owed Sh16.9 million and Sh48 million respectively, have also threatened to pull the plug.

Taita-Taveta’s huge debt has rendered it credit unworthy, meaning it’s unable to source drugs and other medical supplies on credit. As the shortage bites, patients are forced to dig deeper into their pockets to purchase drugs from private pharmacies.

The Nation has learnt that the last batch of drugs was supplied in May when the county ordered a consignment of Sh46 million.

Taita-Taveta assembly’s health committee chair Frank Mmare confirmed the county has been blacklisted by suppliers.

MISPLACED PRIORITIES

“Health officials have misplaced priorities as they breached an agreement with Kemsa to settle the debt to enable the county access drugs on a quarterly basis. We had allocated Sh100 million in the 2018/2019 budget to settle the debt but this hasn’t been done,” Mr Mmare said.

In Kilifi, it’s the same script. The county’s chief health officer Bilal Mazoya however claimed they do not owe Kemsa any money, declining to say when they “cleared the Sh140 million debt”.

In Kwale, sources said the county is working on their Sh64.85 million debt accrued the last one month.

Interestingly, finance executive Bakari Sebe claimed they owe the agency no money. “We have been meeting our obligations every year. We have an annual budget of Sh200 million to procure drugs from Kemsa, which is an increase of Sh50 million from the previous year. Of this, we spend Sh50 million every quarter on drugs,” said Mr Sebe.

In Lamu, medical services chief officer Mohamed Kombo admitted they owe Kemsa Sh45 million. “We have written a voucher of Sh25 million and the repayment process is ongoing,” Dr Kombo said.

MEDICAL SUPPLIES

In Mombasa, health chief officer Dr Khadija Shikely said they have been receiving medical supplies without any interruption. But from the Kemsa report, the county has not paid Sh9.8 million the last nine months.

They were working to ensure the remaining Sh15 million debt is cleared before the end of the month, she said.

“The money will be paid as soon as all the procedures are over. We’re working round the clock to clear the Sh15 million debt before the end of the month,” said Dr Shikely.

In July, Lamu purchased drugs worth Sh38 million, which were distributed in all the 30 public hospitals and dispensaries. The drugs were procured from Kemsa.