City Hall clears Kemsa debt
City Hall has set aside Sh374.9 million to clear an outstanding debt owed to Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa).
The move is aimed at ending a three-year debt row between the County government and state agency, which has resulted in the shortage of drugs at some health facilities within the country’s capital.
The last payment done by City Hall to Kemsa was to the tune of Sh166.93 million in January 2020, after months of back and forth between the two entities.
Nairobi County Assembly Budget and Appropriation committee chairperson Robert Mbatia said the payment of the entire debt will ensure drugs are supplied to all health facilities, with health functions now under the Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS).
The new development, Mbatia said, will also enable the county health facilities to get a year-round supply of drugs to ensure no hospital or dispensary suffers a shortage of medicine.
“There has been a problem getting drugs supply from Kemsa because of the outstanding bill that has accumulated to Sh374 million. But since this debt will now be paid in full, drugs will now be supplied to all our facilities,” confirmed Mbatia.
Kemsa and the Nairobi County government have been embroiled in a tussle over this debt since 2017.
That year, the Authority stopped supplying medicine to Nairobi County hospitals over a Sh285 million debt, at the time, forcing patients to buy drugs and other medical supplies from private hospitals and chemists.
It took the intervention of President Uhuru Kenyatta and former Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki for Kemsa to resume supplies to the county last year.
But the tussle arose again in 2019 when former Governor Mike Sonko announced it was considering turning to other drug suppliers to stock its health centres, accusing Kemsa of being unreliable.
Sonko warned he was ready to seek alternative suppliers, whom he did not mention, following constant rowing with Kemsa over the debt that had now risen to Sh300 million.
Kemsa are the country’s main suppliers of medicine.
However, in October 2020, City Hall paid Sh166.9 million to the agency to offset part of the then Sh353 million debt. Out of this, Sh120 million was to go towards settling the debt while Sh46 million for a fresh supply of medicine to county health facilities.
This is after Kemsa revealed that out of Sh2.8 billion owed to them by seven counties, Nairobi topped the list with a debt of Sh353 million.
After the payment, Kemsa made a Sh66.93 million supply to the top four county hospitals including Mama Lucy Hospital, Pumwani Maternity, Mbagathi and Mutuini, and other health centers across the capital.