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EXPOSÉ: Government trying to cover big crisis in health

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The national government in cahoot with some county government’s are working hard to hide a major health crisis that has hit the nation.

254News can now authoritatively report that even after the recent exposé on the lack of Nevirapine suspension and other ARV drugs, the supplies of ARVs has not normalized. TB drugs are reported to be worst affected. Patient packs for adults have been in short supply and no patient can have their own pack (a system designed to help keep track of the progress of each patient). The patients are forced to share packs.

The worst hit with this crisis are the Western region counties, especially Kisumu county which has a very high burden of TB and other infectious diseases. Ironically, Kisumu county is one of the pioneer counties for the national government’s Universal Health Coverage (UHC) agenda.

Contraceptives are also said to be running short. Currently, Kenya Medical Supplies Agency (KEMSA) is said to have run out of stock of male condoms, Depo Provera® (the 3 monthly injection) and Implanon® (a 1 rod implant). Antimalarial drugs are believed to be next in line, with KEMSA said to be very low on stock of antimalarials, particularly Artemether-Lumefantrine (popularly called AL or ACTM) for adults and children under 3years.
Things are also not any better with other essential medicines with most reported to be either out or running out of stock.

Our sources reveal that a meeting was held yesterday between county pharmacists, the Ministry of Health and KEMSA management. However, the meeting failed to address the concerns of the pharmacists regarding delayed supply of drugs to the counties. The supplies which were expected in mid June have now delayed by more than 45days.

KEMSA management is reported to have insisted that they will not resupply the counties piloting the UHC agenda with any medicines until the Ministry of Health gives them funds. Officials from the Ministry of Health present at the meeting stated that the ministry had not received funds from the treasury for the same. They further noted that they did not have information as to when the funds will be availed as that was ‘above their pay grade’. They advised the pilot counties to use their county budgets to procure commodities for health facilities as they wait for the next half-year phase of financing.

Numerous health facilities across the country are now reporting stock outs of essential medicines. The healthcare workers we spoke with on grounds of anonymity told us that this is bound to get worse unless the counties move with speed and avails funds for procurement of medicines. Nairobi county is among the counties affected by this shortage. This also threatens to derail President Uhuru Kenyatta’s UHC agenda that is being piloted in Machakos, Kisumu, Nyeri and Isiolo counties. The counties have run short of supplies from KEMSA.

Pilot counties for the UHC programme are left in a precarious situation with some said to have reduced their budgetary allocation for drugs and were relying on supplies from KEMSA under the UHC programme. With some counties having not cleared debts owed to KEMSA, they are now forced to look to private suppliers like MEDS.

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