Economy

Kemsa blames Cabinet nod hitch for Sh790m PPE expiry

KEMSA2110s

Kenya Medical Supplies Authority acting chief executive Edward Njoroge at the National Assembly in Nairobi Thursday. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NMG

Summary

  • Personal protective equipment worth Sh790 million held by the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa) at their warehouse have expired, a parliamentary committee heard Thursday.
  • Kemsa acting CEO Edward Njoroge Thursday told the National Assembly Committee on Health that the expired PPE are part of the Sh5.4 billion that the agency procured but have remained at their stores to date.
  • Mr Njoroge told MPs that the items expired at their stores while they were still waiting for approval from the Cabinet to dispose of them at the current market prices.

Personal protective equipment worth Sh790 million held by the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa) at their warehouse have expired, a parliamentary committee heard Thursday.

Kemsa acting CEO Edward Njoroge Thursday told the National Assembly Committee on Health that the expired PPE are part of the Sh5.4 billion that the agency procured but have remained at their stores to date.

Mr Njoroge told MPs that the items expired at their stores while they were still waiting for approval from the Cabinet to dispose of them at the current market prices.

“After getting Cabinet approval to dispose of the PPEs, we found out that items worth Sh790 million have expired. But we are assessing to see if some of the items can still be used,” said Mr Njoroge.

A fully kitted PPE has an overall, gloves, face shield and shoe cover. Mr Njoroge said they are checking if some of the items could be salvaged and used.

The Kemsa procured the anti-Covid consignment at a higher price owing to their high demand when Kenya first recorded positive Covid-19 cases in March 2020.

The agency is said to have procured N95 (1860) masks at Sh1,300 a piece against the market price of Sh700. It ordered 5,000 pieces. It bought KN95 masks at Sh700 apiece against the market price of Sh450. It was supplied with 1,836,400 masks while disposable masks were bought for Sh90 a piece against the market price of Sh50

The purchase of the PPE currently stuck at Kemsa is also a subject of an investigation by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC).

Kemsa currently holds stock worth Sh5.4 billion from the original procurements of Sh7.6 billion after selling stock worth Sh2.2 billion before the EACC stopped the sales.

So far, the agency has paid Sh4.7 billion to suppliers while it still owes others Sh2.9 billion.

In July, while appearing before the Public Investments Committee over the Sh7.8 billion Kemsa scandal, Health Cabinet secretary Mutahi Kagwe told MPs that the National Development Implementation and Communication Committee chaired by Interior CS Fred Matiang’i approved the release of the stock into the market.

In August, the agency got the Cabinet memorandum approving the sale of the equipment at the current market rates, a move that will see taxpayers lose Sh2.3 billion.

Mr Njoroge confirmed to the lawmakers that they have already started selling the items and have already sold out equipment worth Sh180 million.

He added that they have also engaged 35 counties that have ordered the items while 12 are still reluctant to buy the equipment from them.

“The board has met severally over this matter and gave the management permission to dispose of the items to willing customers,” he said.

“We have been able to engage counties and referral hospitals but they are saying our prices are very high and that we should march their prices for them to buy from us.”

A report by PIC chaired by Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir in a report tabled before the house last month recommended that suppliers who benefited from inflated prices of face masks should refund excess payment within a month. The MPs are yet to debate the report.