Counties to be Allowed to Source for Drugs from Other Entities: Oparanya

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Council of Governors chairman Wycliffe Oparanya says County governments  should  be  allowed  to  source  for  drugs  and  medical  supplies  from other entities not Kenya Medical Supplies Agency (KEMSA) to  enable   them to adequately respond to the pandemic.

In a statement Saturday, he called upon the High Court to expeditiously dispense the matter challenging the Constitutionality of the KEMSA (Amendment) Act.

“We are currently experiencing an unprecedented crisis which calls for   urgent   solutions.” He said

Oparanya said it is  quite  unfortunate  that  the  COVID-19 pandemic  has  created an  avenue for  KEMSA  officials  to  engage  in corruption there by putting the lives of Kenyans at risk.

“To   avoid   such   eventualities, County   Governments   opposed   the amendment to the KEMSA Act by seeking redress at the High Court to  challenge  section  3  of  the  aforementioned  Act which  requires County   Governments   to   procure both pharmaceutical and   non-pharmaceutical  supplies  from  the  Authority. “He added

The Chair said this particular section has interrupted service delivery to the Mwananchi as the Authority has   failed to   fully   satisfy medical   needs of   all   the   47   County Governments.

” It   is  saddening   that KEMSA, an   independent   Authority   with obligation  to  ensure  the  well-being  of  the  Mwananchi  can  resort  to such    unbecoming    conduct while  the country is facing an international crisis.”

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This follows the suspension of KEMSA Chief Executive Officer Dr Jonah Mwangi Manjari, the Commercial Director Eluid Muriithi and the Procurement Director Charles Juma on Friday.

The suspension according to the board is to pave way for the completion of the ongoing EACC investigations on COVID-19 procurements and other related issues.

Edward Njoroge Njuguna, the Operations Director has since been appointed by the board as the acting CEO, while Edward Buluma and Dr George Walukana will be the acting Procurement and Commercial Directors respectively.

EACC is investigating the top officials at KEMSA in relation to a controversial Ksh 7.7 billion tender for the emergency procurement of COVID-19 Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) that was to be delivered by July 22, 2020.

A preliminary probe by the EACC revealed that KEMSA officials flouted procurement procedures by direct sourcing under the cover of emergency needs, despite the fact that they were given three months to supply as opposed to one month.

Additionally, other companies with less than six months in operation received tenders without credible financial records being presented.

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The direct sourcing coupled with other procurement irregularities saw KEMSA procure COVID-19 equipment at double the price.

For instance, a special audit revealed that KEMSA procured over 1.8 million KN95 masks at a cost of Ksh 700 per piece, yet a single mask goes for Ksh 450 on the higher side.

Additionally, the disposable 3-ply surgical masks were procured at Ksh 90 per piece against the market price of Ksh 50 when bought in bulk, with personal protective equipment being procured at Ksh 9,000 when the kits were going for Ksh 4,500 on the market.

On June 23, EACC officers stormed Kemsa offices and carted away documents over suspected procurement irregularities linked to the construction of  Ksh 3 billion warehouse.

EACC boss Twalib Mbarak wrote to Manjaari on June 18 seeking to have tender advertising notices, bank tender documents, all bids submitted, tender opening minutes, list of bidders and individual tender evaluation score sheets.

“This commission is conducting investigations into allegations of procurement irregularities at KEMSA in relation to tender KEMSA/CONST/OIT4/2019/20. To facilitate our investigations, kindly furnish us with the original documents relating to the above tender,” said part of the letter to the Kemsa boss.

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EACC also requested due diligence report, professional opinion, tender award notifications and regrets, acceptance letter from the winning bidders, contract agreements, inspection and acceptance certificates, payment vouchers and appointment letters to committees.

A joint audit report by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Global Fund said there were massive financial and procurement irregularities at KEMSA.

It said the organization was taking advantage of its monopoly in supplying drugs to public health facilities to overcharge counties by as much as 77 per cent for some drugs.

The audit proposed restructuring the entire procurement system and the establishment of a new accountability system.

KEMSA currently serves 371 hospitals, 4,415 rural health facilities and 5,047 sites that offer rapid testing across Kenya.

KEMSA, which falls under the Ministry of Health, offers procurement, warehousing and distribution services for medical commodities for clients like USAid, World Bank and the Global Fund.

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