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KEMSA Chairperson Mary Mwadime said the Board had scaled up organisational turn-around efforts to provide a solid foundation for the uptake of the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) goal among other national healthcare development plans. [Photo/ Courtesy] 

The Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (KEMSA) has assured donors and development partners invested in the local health sector that ongoing reforms at the Authority are being undertaken in strict compliance with due process and labour laws.

Speaking after updating international development partners, KEMSA Chairperson Mary Mwadime said the Board had scaled up organisational turn-around efforts to provide a solid foundation for the uptake of the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) goal among other national healthcare development plans.

“A dysfunctional KEMSA slows down healthcare delivery goals and is a liability to the envisaged positive national healthcare outcomes and the Board is committed to facilitating reforms to set the authority on a recovery path. This will include structured engagements with several county governments to settle their outstanding bills amounting to more than Ksh6 billion,” she said.

The development partners present included representatives from the World Health Organisation, Global Fund, USAID, CDC, UNAIDS, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and World Bank among others.

The KEMSA Board accompanied by the Acting Chief Executive Officer Edward Njoroge engaged the development partners who had converged under their umbrella body, the Development Partners for Health in Kenya (DPH-K), as part of ongoing stakeholder engagements.

She assured DPH-K members that the reforms are not a knee-j**k reaction and are based on a well-considered reform plan formulated by the new KEMSA Board. The Board, she reiterated, is firmly in control of the Authority and is providing policy oversight working closely with a mission-critical core KEMSA Management Team assisted by a multi-agency team to be drawn from public sector experts.  The multi-agency officers will be drawn from the Public Service Commission, State Corporations Advisory Committee (SCAC), Ministry of Health, Ministry of Public Service and Gender Affairs, Ministry of Information, Communication, Technology and Youth Affairs, Ministry of Defence, The National Treasury and the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government among others.

Currently, the Authority, she said, is operating under a Business Continuity Plan (BCP), which was formulated and executed before the release of non-core staff last week, with the necessary interventions in place to avoid undue disruptions to service delivery and day to day operations. She explained that the multi-agency operations team, anchoring the BCP, is handling logistics, human resource management, quality assurance, physical and information security, among other dockets.

She confirmed that the KEMSA Board is working under a tight deadline to facilitate organisational changes.

“Sufficient organisational changes that can restore the Authority’s glory as a strategic State Corporation mandated to undertake roles and responsibilities that ensure supply chain excellence for Health Products and Technologies (HPTs) countrywide.” She said.

The reforms at the Authority, she disclosed, are part of the far-reaching recommendations outlined in several KEMSA restructuring reports, including the latest  KEMSA Immediate Action Plan and Medium Term Reforms Working Committee (KIAPRWC) report. Commissioned by the Board, the KIAPRWC report revealed challenges in critical functions.

The report, Ms Mwadime told the DPH-K members, confirms that KEMSA is grossly underperforming and largely unable to meet clients’ urgent needs, particularly the delivery of essential Medicines and Products to the Counties, Referral Hospitals and Programs.

The Authority, she said, is suffering from below-par productivity, with the order fill rate standing at 18% against a target performance of over 90%. KEMSA’s order turn-around time is an average of 46 days.

KEMSA is also suffering from a developing debtor and creditor c****s and is currently owed Ksh. 6.4 Billion by its clients, who are primarily county governments. The Authority owes its creditors Ksh. 4.5 Billion and is operating at 170% above its approved staff establishment of three hundred and forty-one (341) with an estimated staff complement of 922.

“The KEMSA Board, as part of its reform plan e*******n and outreach, confirms that we have had a productive meeting with members of the Development Partners for Health in Kenya. We have provided them with a detailed update on the reforms e*******n plan and the Business Continuity Plan,” She said.

She added, “We have also expressed the Board’s commitment to progressively update the Development Partners among other stakeholders as we continue to execute the reforms plan. The Board is committed to facilitating the necessary reforms to ensure that KEMSA challenges are addressed.”

She assured that the release of all staff to work from home is a procedural stepping aside formality to facilitate the review of the organisational structure and will be undertaken expeditiously to ensure that the staff complement is fit for purpose and within the approved staff establishment levels.

The Board, she said, is committed to facilitating the necessary reforms to ensure that KEMSA challenges are sufficiently addressed. This commitment includes aligning the organisational structure to industry-accepted standards for a health commodities and technologies procurement organisation. It also calls for the introduction of global best practices, including transparent reporting relationships, an acceptable span of control, and command structures, compounding related functions for strengthened accountability and a re-determination of optimal staffing levels and norms.

Read: KEMSA Assures County Governments of Prompt Services

>>> KEMSA to Exorcise Ghosts of Covid-19 Graft With New Procurement Measures

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