Taita-Taveta Dropped From KEMSA’s Blacklist Over Sh 89 Million Drug Debt

In 2020, Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (KEMSA) blacklisted Taita-Taveta County government for failure to pay millions of shillings for drugs and pharmaceutical products supplied to hospitals in the region.
This meant the county could not get drugs and other medical products from KEMSA. The move came after KEMSA concluded the county was unwilling to clear a staggering debt of sh 89 million for drugs supplied on credit.
The blacklisting triggered an unprecedented crisis in the health sector. A severe shortage of drugs gripped the county with thousands of patients being forced to purchase expensive drugs from private chemists.
Others who required specialized treatment were referred to hospitals outside the county while critical departments like maternity reportedly run out of basic items like gloves, antiseptic and cotton wool putting the lives of expectant mothers and infants in great danger.
Mr. Gifton Mkaya, the County Executive Committee Member (CECM) for Health Services says the county is making progress in regaining its creditworthiness with KEMSA.
‘We have made efforts to repair our image, mend our relations and get back to KEMSA’s good books,’ he says
Amongst the efforts the county has made include making payments of over sh 60 million to clear the KEMSA bill. Senior County officials have also held several meetings with the KEMSA team to mend the tattered relations between the two entities. Present in all these engagements is the county unequivocal pledge and commitment to pay all the remaining balances.
Currently, Taita-Taveta County owes KEMSA sh 20.3 million; an amount Governor Andrew Mwadime says will be cleared once the county receives its allocation from the national government.
These debt payments and the meetings have started yielding results. This week, KEMSA removed Taita-Taveta from the list of blacklisted counties in what is being viewed as the beginning of a new dawn for supply of drugs in the region. In a pointer of things to come, KEMSA supplied a heavy consignment of assorted drugs worth sh 33.3 million to the county. This consignment is expected to last for three months and revamp the medical stocks available in hospitals, dispensary and health centers across the county.
Speaking in Mwatate during the flagging off of this drug consignment, KEMSA County Support Manager Esther Somoire said the commitment from the county to clear the drug debt was an indicator of sheer goodwill by leaders seeking solutions for their people.
Ms. Somoire stated that Taita-Taveta County’s account with KEMSA that had been suspended due to non-payment of the debt had been reactivated to allow the county to order drugs and other pharmaceuticals.
‘The governor and his team have shown commitment to pay the debt and we have promised to be delivering drugs when requested to,’ she said.
She also said that KEMSA had adopted a system that allowed quick-delivery of drugs with a turn-around time of a maximum of 10-days. Turn-around time is the period between when the order for drugs is placed and when drugs are delivered.
In the past, the turn-around time could extend to over 60 days adversely affecting service delivery in health facilities.
‘We are committed to delivering the drugs in the shortest time possible,’ she said.
Governor Andrew Mwadime says the renewal of good relations between his government and KEMSA will see the public get quality drugs in all facilities. He disclosed that after paying over sh 60 million, KEMSA supplied drugs worth sh 17.8 million in December last year.
He further noted that KEMSA had agreed to give the county a credit window of 120 days to pay for drugs supplied.
‘This is what I have been pushing for to get partners to promote our health agenda. We are thankful KEMSA has restored our credit facility and we commit to pay the debts owed,’ said the governor.
KEMSA and the county government have entered into a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) over the supply of drugs and the modalities of making payments. The MoU is being viewed as a central pillar in governor Mwadime’s drive to revamp the health sector and deliver quality services to residents.
The governor however warned against pilferage of drugs by unscrupulous medical workers.

Source: Kenya News Agency