MPs question conflicting supplier records in Afya House probe

Dr Nicholas Muraguri, Health principal secretary. PHOTO | FILE
Dr Nicholas Muraguri, Health principal secretary. PHOTO | FILE 

Inconsistencies have arisen on the number of suppliers who were contracted to deliver food supplements for TB and HIV Aids patients, casting doubts on the accuracy of record keeping at the Ministry of Health. 

The Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa) Tuesday told MPs who are investigating questionable contracts at the ministry that four firms delivered the supplements to its stores, contrary to an audit report that indicated that five firms were contracted to supply the food.

While appearing before the committee earlier, Health principal secretary Nicholas Muraguri said five firms were contracted to supply the supplements.

MPs initiated the investigation after an internal audit report of the ministry pointed out irregularities in contracts totalling up to Sh5 billion.

The National Assembly’s Health committee vice chairperson, Robert Purkose (Endebes), questioned the inconsistencies in the submissions of the ministry.

“You said that three firms were contracted, the PS said four and not five as per the audit report. Why are there discrepancies?” Dr Purkose asked.

Mr Philip Omondi, the director corporate services who is currently in charge of Kemsa operations, told the committee that four firms supplied the goods-- with Life Care Medics International delivering twice.

“We received commodities procured outside Kemsa by the ministry directly. The commodities came from the suppliers contracted by the Ministry of Health,” he said.

Kemsa said it was not involved in the award of Sh265.7 million contracts for the supply of the food supplements, which were paid for in advance.

The agency said the food supplements were received at the agency warehouse between the months of May and August this year.

But Health principal secretary Dr Nicholas Muraguri in submissions made before Parliament said the commodities were received and paid for around April.

The government medical logistics agency also revealed that Life Care Medics International Limited, a firm that imported food supplements worth Sh265 million also delivered locally sourced supplements amounting to Sh201 million.

Kemsa was unable to explain if the food supplements had been paid for in advance, saying the “procuring entity (Ministry of Health) was best placed to respond.”

“Unless there is a clause in the contract providing for advance payments, we are unable to know if the payments were made in advance,” Mr Omondi told the Health committee.

Mr Omondi said Kemsa plays no role in determining what is supposed to be procured and distributed by Kemsa from Ministry of Health.

“We only deal with what we procure for counties. We have no control over what is brought to us by the ministry. We wouldn’t know if the commodities were imported or not. What was procured by the ministry is almost exhausted,” he said.

Mr Omondi said Kemsa cannot know whether the supplied commodities were locally sourced or imported.

He said Kemsa is currently in the process of procuring food supplements funded through the Global Fund, which will be delivered between December and January 2017.

Mr Omondi said Kemsa received food supplements from M/s Sundels International worth Sh41 million in May 2016,  Dendmed Kenya  Limited (Sh2.99 million) in July, Leo Park (Sh4.99 million) in July, Life Care Medics (Sh201 million) in May and Sh265.7 million in August.

“Within the same period, other commodities received were from Unicef amounting to Sh96 million from October 2015 to July 2016,” he said.

Seme MP James Nyikal said the committee had learnt that Life Care Medics delivered two consignments worth Sh201 and Sh265.7 million, the latter having not been disclosed by the PS.

Dr Purkose said Life Care Medics was paid Sh265.7 million through a letter of credit at the Co-operative Bank of Kenya.

“The goods of Sh265 million were received in August and payments were made. Who received the money?” Dr Purkose said.

Mr Omondi said Kemsa receives and stores medical supplies on behalf of the ministry. John Kabuchi, the procurement manager in charge of programmes and strategic partnerships, told MPs that Kemsa is paid fees for warehousing and distribution of the commodities on behalf of procuring agencies.

The medical supplies agency said whereas it procures drugs for TB, Malaria and HIV on behalf of donor agencies, it does not know the total requirements for the country.

“We need to ensure what is procured is suitable for Kenyans’ consumption. I think that procurement of medical commodities needs to be consolidated,” Mr Omondi said when asked to provide his views on the procurement of medical supplies by different entities.