How Kemsa kept buying masks amid Sh1.5bn dead stock

kemsa pic

Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (KEMSA) warehouse in Embakasi, Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

The Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa) kept buying face masks even as it held onto nearly expiring stocks.

Tender documents seen by the Business Daily show the authority issued an international tender for personal protective equipment (PPE), including masks, at a time it was stuck with a dead stock of masks and other PPEs which could see taxpayers lose Sh1.5 billion.

The tender dated March 2 this year and was set to close on March 29 asked eligible bidders from across the globe to tender their bids for 3,000 packs of N95 face masks of ten pieces per unit, 2,000 units of disposable lab coats of 50 units each and 6,000 units of powder-free gloves of 50 units each.

“The Ministry of Health has set aside funds for use in the procurement of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) under Government of Kenya (GOK) funding," said Kemsa in tender documents seen by the Business Daily.

"It is intended that part of the proceeds of the funds will be used to cover eligible payments under the contract for the supply of personal protective equipment (PPEs). Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (KEMSA), on behalf of the Ministry of Health, herewith invites sealed bids from eligible Bidders for Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs)."

"Bids will be opened promptly in public on Tuesday, 29th March 2022 in the presence of Bidders’ and/ or representatives who choose to attend the opening at Kemsa bids’ opening conference Hall at 10.00 a.m Local time on Tuesday, 29th March 2022."

Kemsa, which is scouting for a new Chief Executive Officer, on Friday defended itself against the logic of the quest to add more masks at a time others were nearing expiry, telling the Business Daily this tender was cancelled last week.

"The tender was cancelled," a spokesperson told the Business Daily on Friday. A tender cancellation document placed on local dailies on Thursday, March 17 confirmed the tender was cancelled.

"Interested bidders are notified that the tender earlier advertised as indicated has been terminated," said Kemsa in the notice placed last week on Thursday.

Kemsa says the successful candidate will be expected to strengthen corporate governance at the agency.

"They will promote the Authority’s image and develop a good working relationship with all stakeholders and partners while promoting the principles of good governance in the Authority’s area of jurisdiction," said Kemsa in a notice.

The cancellation came on the back of the announcement by Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe on March 11 that wearing of face masks in open public places had been lifted and full in-person worship for vaccinated persons restored.

Kemsa has been on the spotlight recently after the UN-backed Global Fund revealed a fresh rot at the medical supplies agency after it found out that 908,000 mosquito nets, 1.1 million condoms and tuberculosis drugs worth Sh10 million had disappeared from its warehouse.

Global Fund, which finances the fight against HIV/Aids, tuberculosis and malaria, last week also raised the red flag over suspected fake suppliers demanding Sh1.66 billion from Kemsa.

The lost medicines are believed to have been stolen and resold on the black market and to private chemists, shining a spotlight once again on Kemsa over its graft record.

The State agency is also accused of overstating the value of medicines by Sh640 million, with some types of drugs having been inflated 100 times, according to an audit by Global Fund.

Some of the drugs, which were bought by cash from Global Fund, expired amid a shortfall in government hospitals.

The revelations come as Kemsa battles to clean its image after the State agency was engulfed in tender fraud over the procurement of Covid-19 medical supplies in 2020.

The Global Fund’s anti-graft unit — the Office of Inspector General (OIG)— recommended further investigation of Kemsa in a move that could put its Sh50.6 billion funding to Kenya at risk.

Since 2003, the Global Fund has disbursed more than $1.4 (Sh159.6) billion to Kenya to help fight HIV/Aids, tuberculosis, malaria, and most recently Covid-19.

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