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Senate amends KEMSA Bill to cure its alleged “perennial mismanagement”

Hon Mary Senata.
Hon Mary Senata.
This will effectively force KEMSA to consult counties, a departure from the present state where it only answers to the ministry of health. 

An amendment Bill that may finally cure the Kenya Medical Services Authority of its perennial mismanagement has been approved by Senate.

The bill sponsored by nominated Senator Mary Seneta is expected to get its final approval by the National Assembly after going through the third reading in Senate on Tuesday, June 30, 2020.  

The bill proposes amendments to the principal Act on which KEMSA is anchored, to among other things provide for competitive recruitment of the CEO.

Supply Chain

It also proposes a devolved supply chain complete with stations at the county level, mandatory consultations with county governments before procurement of supplies for the county facilities, and formal partnerships with county governments. 

KEMSA’s responsibility for the procurement of medical supplies, warehousing, distribution, and supply chain services for public health facilities has perennially been captive of cartels that have been blamed for the theft of medical and related supplies meant for health facilities countrywide.

The Bill proposes a raft of changes to the KEMSA Act in a bid to align it with the constitution, which transferred health services from a centralised system to the counties. 

Mary Senata sponsored the Bill in the Senate.
Mary Senata sponsored the Bill in the Senate.

Currently, KEMSA is a state corporation under the Ministry of Health with no binding obligation to answer to counties even though health services are devolved.

By ensuring that the Authority’s functions are tied to the needs of the devolved governments and providing a framework through which KEMSA can work with county governments, Senator Seneta hopes it will ease supply chain pains for the counties.  

In the Bill, Seneta proposes to amend the title to the Act to provide that the KEMSA shall serve both the national and the county governments. 

Consult Counties

This will effectively force KEMSA to consult counties, a departure from the present state where it only answers to the ministry of health. 

This is also coming at a time when the country is dealing with the COVID-19 epidemic which threatens to stretch the health services to the limit.

To cure the perennial claims of mismanagement of the authority, the Bill proposes to amend section 5 of the Act to include two members recruited in concurrence with the council of governors and appointed by the Cabinet Secretary to the board of directors.

This, Seneta said, would enable better collaboration between the authority and the council of governors. 

“It also seeks to have the voice of counties represented in the board since the amount of business the counties are likely to generate for the authority is high and, therefore, only fair for the counties to have a say in the Board of the authority,” said Seneta. 

She said clause 7 of the Bill proposes to amend section 21 of the Act to provide that the council of governors must be consulted before the CS makes any regulations under the Act. 

KEMSA serves over 371 hospitals, 4415 rural health facilities, and runs 5047 rapid testing kits sites across Kenya, said the nominated senator. 

Monitoring Mechanism

Seneta said the bill seeks to institutionalise a monitoring mechanism to ensure supplies sourced using public money to reach the intended facilities and benefit the intended users.

While medical supplies are distributed from the KEMSA operations centre to the hospitals and public health facilities, the distribution services are outsourced to transporters and KEMSA’s internal fleet, which have allegedly often been avenues to facilitate pilferage and theft. 

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KEMSA recently remodelled its operations from a previous system where supplies were made before payments, to one where the county health facilities have to submit orders with payment. 

The amendments will also demand that KEMSA collects information and provides regular reports to the national and county governments on the status of cost, effectiveness of procurement, the distribution and value of prescribed essential medical supplies delivered to health facilities, stock status and on any other aspects of supply systems as well as performance which may be required by stakeholders.

 

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