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Shortage of Drugs Hits Marsabit Public Health Facilities

A Sh73 million debt owed by the Marsabit county government to the Kenya Medical Supplies Agency (KEMSA) has negatively affected dispensation of health services to the residents.

The agency halted drug and other medical supplies to 118 public health facilities in the County a year ago owing to the pending bill.

Marsabit County Assembly Committee on Pending Bills heard that the Department Of Health has been relying on its own generated revenue to sustain the drug and other essential supplies.

Appearing before the Ad Hoc Committee the County Executive Committee (CEC) member for Health Dr Jama Wolde said that KEMSA had declined to resume medical supplies because the devolved unit had failed to offset the pending bill.

Dr Wolde disclosed that Marsabit Referral Hospital, Kalacha, Laisamis and Moyale Level 4 Hospitals were the most hit by the crisis.

“This County stopped receiving provisions from KEMSA in April 2020 owing to the unpaid bills,” he added.

The Ad hoc committee chaired by Leader of Majority Halkano Konso heard that the Universal Health Care coverage had also run into problems with beneficiaries now forced to look for alternative ways of meeting expenses for their medical needs.

According to the CEC the 10,000 households in the 20 wards across the County were supposed to receive the essential service through the NHIF cover which had been allocated Sh60 million per year.

However, despite Sh121.6 million having been allocated for Universal Health Care and approved by the county assembly, Sh84.4 million was diverted to other operations by the executive for unknown reasons.

Dr Wolde said his office was not consulted when the decision was made to divert the funds and asked the committee to consider seeking an explanation from the county executive member for finance.

The Ad Hoc Committee Chairperson expressed concern that the County government could afford such callousness and subject vulnerable residents to suffering of untold magnitude due to shortage of drugs in public health facilities.

He likened the financial malpractices to economic crimes against the residents of Marsabit with other members of the committee accusing Executive Officers in the Health and Finance Departments of implementing orders without ascertaining their legitimacy.

The County government is currently reeling under a burden of Sh1.2 billion in accumulated pending bills which is however being attributed to the delay of funds by the National Treasury.

The Kenya Medical Supply Agencies (KEMSA) had again in 2019 halted supplies to the County following a pending bill of Sh22 million.

By Sebastian Miriti

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