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How Health PS swayed Kemsa Covid supplies

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How Health PS swayed Kemsa Covid supplies

Health Principal Secretary Susan Mochache
Health Principal Secretary Susan Mochache. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa) exclusively procured Covid-19 related supplies from select firms at pre-set prices on the directive of the Health ministry, the agency’s board confirmed Thursday.

Kembi Gitura, the board chairman of the authority which buys drugs for all public health facilities in the country, said Health Principal Secretary Susan Mochache issued the instruction via a letter in April.

“We received a letter from the Ministry of Health containing a list of where we should procure from, the prices and the quantity. I can vouch on the quality of PPEs we procured,” he said when he appeared before the Health committee of National Assembly to shed light on claims of Covid-19 related procurement fraud at Kemsa.

In the letter dated April 15, 2020 addressed to suspended Kemsa CEO Jonah Manjari, the PS claimed that the World Bank had identified and approved various items to be procured by the State agency.

“This is to approve the procurement of goods worth Sh758, 690,583 as outlined in the annex. Disregard all other requests made in relation to Covid as they have been captured under this approval,” reads the letter from the PS tabled before the committee.

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The Health ministry had denied directing Kemsa on the Covid-19 related procurement when its officials appeared before the Parliamentary committee at an earlier date.

Documents tabled before the committee indicate that several companies including Megascope Healthcare, Tikasan Holdings Co Ltd, KEMA Ltd, Medilab and Applied Products supplied Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) to the agency.

For instance, according to the document tabled by Kemsa, Megascope supplied face masks worth Sh91.3 million while Tikasan and Applied Products were paid Sh4.4 million and Sh417,000 respectively for various items delivered.

Kemsa owes several Covid-19 suppliers, including F and S Scientific Ltd (Sh25.4m), Chemoquip Ltd (Sh4.1m) and Faram Limited (Sh3.2m).

The State agency told MPs that it is holding stock of PPEs worth Sh6.2 billion, despite majority of healthcare workers lacking the equipment.

President Uhuru Kenyatta on Wednesday ordered speedy investigations into the suspected procurement fraud at Kemsa within 21 days. This came a day after the National Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) also ordered a forensic audit on the Sh134 billion allocated for fighting Covid-19 amid public uproar over misuse of the funds.

The PAC directed the Auditor-General Nancy Gathungu to audit cover the expenditure period between March 13 when the first case was reported in the country and July 31.

Dr Manjari was suspended alongside directors Eliud Muriithi (Commercial) and Charles Juma (Procurement) to allow for the investigations into claims of procuring Covid-19 emergency kits at exorbitant prices.

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