Drug shortage is looming across the country as county government owe the Kenya Medical Supplies Agency (KEMSA) Sh2.3 billion.

Despite the county government setting aside Sh747 million for health in the present financial year, only Sh70million has been used to countervail the debt.

In the latest report dated April 11, Nairobi County topped the list with an accumulative debt of Sh284 million running back from 2014.

Other counties that owe KEMSA huge amounts of money include Homa Bay, which owes the agency Sh138 million, Makueni (Sh163 million), Narok (Sh105 million), Turkana (Sh96 million), Kiambu (Sh95 million), Kitui (Sh94 million), Nakuru (Sh89 million), Meru (Sh88 million), Vihiga (Sh71 million) and Wajir (Sh68 million).

In regions where the pilot of the universal health coverage programme has been rolled out, Kisumu tops the list with a debt of Sh77 million, followed by Machakos with Sh34 million, Nyeri (Sh9 million) and Isiolo (Sh2.3 million).

[Read: The curse of devolution in Kenya’s health system ]

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Kemsa has a deal with counties, which pay within 45 days after delivery.

KEMSA boss Dr Jonah Manjari said that the agency was engaging with the county governments over clearance of the outstanding debts.

“We are holding talks regarding the debt clearing as soon as possible. The response we have received is positive and we hope they will clear the huge debts very soon,” said Dr Manjari.

He however, expressed disappointment  with the county’s administrations for failing to settle their debt despite funds being allocated for purchasing drugs and non-pharmaceutical supplies.

“For a successful roll out of the Universal Health Coverage Programme next month, it is important for the counties to priorities payments in the health sector,” he said.

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Brenda Gamonde is reporter with Business Today. Email: [email protected]

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