Healthcare in Crisis: Nairobi and Homa Bay Counties Fail to Pay Medical Bills

Kenya's Medical Supply Nightmare: Nairobi and Homa Bay Lead the Way
Kenya's Medical Supply Nightmare: Nairobi and Homa Bay Lead the Way
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Nairobi and Homa Bay counties have surged to the forefront as the most delinquent debtors on the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority’s (KEMSA) blacklist. These counties, led by their inept leaders, have amassed staggering debts for medical supplies, throwing the health of their citizens into jeopardy.

KEMSA’s Chief Executive Officer, the ever-optimistic Dr. Andrew Mulwa, revealed that a dismal eight counties have blatantly disregarded their financial obligations to settle their bills for life-saving medical goods. These counties have not only failed to meet their obligations but have also blown past the 45-day credit period graciously granted to them by KEMSA.

Leading this disgraceful pack is Nairobi County, sitting atop a mountain of debt at a staggering Sh243 million. Hot on its heels, Homa Bay County shamelessly owes KEMSA a whopping Sh104 million. The rest of this infamous list includes Busia (Sh82 million), Nakuru (Sh53 million), Trans Nzoia (Sh49 million), Kisumu (Sh35 million), Mombasa (Sh13.6 million), and Nyamira (Sh9 million).

Dr. Mulwa, with an air of exasperation, spoke to a gathering of editors during a retreat in Mombasa, attempting to put a positive spin on this dire situation. “We are actively engaging these counties to pay,” he declared, as if it were a negotiable matter.

“In discussions held with media editors,” the beleaguered Dr. Mulwa continued, “KEMSA’s acting CEO, Dr. Andrew Mulwa, revealed that ongoing negotiations between the authority and county governors are underway. ‘We are hopeful because the governors have expressed their commitment to settling these outstanding debts.’ Hope, it seems, is all we have left.”

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But the financial mess doesn’t end here. KEMSA, in addition to grappling with these delinquent debtors, has plunged itself into a pit of losses, largely thanks to its questionable handling of procurement during the COVID-19 pandemic.

At one point, KEMSA was sitting on a COVID-19 stockpile valued at an eye-watering Sh5.45 billion. However, it appears that in August 2021, the Ministry of Health gave them the green light to sell off goods worth Sh5.24 billion at a market price of Sh3.2 billion. This incredible mismanagement led to a jaw-dropping loss of Sh2.04 billion.

As if this wasn’t enough, medical supplies worth Sh548 million have since expired, and KEMSA is now staring at an additional impairment loss of Sh753 million. This results in a staggering cumulative loss of Sh3.3 billion.

Dr. Mulwa, clutching at straws, now proposes venturing into the private sector to clean up the mess they’ve made. “We aspire to enter the private sector, enabling us to offer quality and cost-effective pharmaceuticals to private healthcare providers. There is a void that we can fill,” he says. Perhaps, instead of filling voids, they should focus on plugging the gaping holes in their own financial ship before setting sail on new, uncertain seas.

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