By Machuki Dennson
The Kenya Medical Supplies Authority KEMSA Board has reiterated that the Authority is undertaking normal operations guided by a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) which was formulated and executed before the release of non-core staff home.
This is despite the previous communication that the National Youth Service NYS and the Kenya Defence Forces KDF would be in charge of all activities for the 30-day long while the KEMSA staff are working from home.
The Boar chairperson Ms. Mary Mwadime says the board is firmly in control through providing policy oversight and is working closely with a core management team assisted by a multi-agency team drawn from public sector experts. She says the multi-agency operations team is handling logistics, human resource management, quality assurance, physical and information security, among other dockets.
Mary Mwadime said this in a meeting with the National Assembly Parliamentary Committee on Health led by its chairperson Sabina Chege.
Chege has implored stakeholders affiliated with the KEMSA to extend the necessary support to the Authority’s Board and Management as organizational restructuring efforts get underway.
Speaking after a closed-door briefing session with the KEMSA Board Members, Health Committee Chair expressed the Committee’s satisfaction with the Reforms Plan drawn up by the KEMSA board.
“We are comfortable to hear that the Board is in full control. The whole issue about the Military and NYS that has been flying around we have been assured is misguided,” Chege said. “As a committee, we have asked the Board to take care of the employees and ensure that due process is followed, even as the restructuring gets underway.”
While imploring stakeholders to support the Board in the restructuring process, the Health Committee further appealed to County Governments owing KEMSA to settle their debts. The Authority, she said, is reeling under a massive debt load occasioned by a delay in paying outstanding debts for medical supplies already delivered by KEMSA to several counties.
The Committee, she said, had also expressed its concern on the management stability, asking the Board to consider filling the positions currently held by acting Managers substantively.
“It is important that this Board maintains a proper management team and to make sure that supplies are uninterrupted to KEMSA clients. My appeal to the County Governments, is if you owe KEMSA, kindly urgently pay. It is important that we take KEMSA back to its former glory.”
During the session, KEMSA Board Chairperson Mary Mwadime disclosed that a recent Taskforce report by the KEMSA Immediate Action Plan and Medium Term Reforms Working Committee (KIAPRWC) had revealed challenges in critical functions that deserve to be expeditiously addressed.
Ms Mwadime admitted that currently KEMSA, is grossly underperforming and is largely unable to meet clients’ urgent needs, particularly the delivery of essential Medicines and Products to the Counties, Referral Hospitals and Programs.
Specifically, she said the Authority is suffering from below-par productivity, with the order fill rate standing at 18% against a target performance of over 90%. KEMSA’s order turn-around time is an average of 46 days.
In June 2021, out of 11,000 orders received at KEMSA, only 345 orders were serviced at the Authority, which is suffering from a developing debtor and creditor crisis.
Currently, KEMSA is owed Ksh. 6.4 Billion and owes its creditors Ksh. 4.5 Billion.
The Authority is operating at 170% above its approved staff establishment of three hundred and forty-one (341) with an estimated staff complement of 922.
Last week, Ms Mwadime confirmed that the necessary interventions had been put in place to avoid undue disruptions to service delivery and day to day operations.
She assured that the release of all staff to work from home is a procedural formality to facilitate the review of the organizational structure and will be undertaken expeditiously to ensure that the staff complement is fit for purpose and within the approved staff establishment levels.
The Board, she said, is committed to facilitating the necessary reforms to ensure that KEMSA challenges are sufficiently addressed.
This commitment includes aligning the organizational structure to industry-accepted standards for a health commodities and technologies procurement organization.
It also calls for the introduction of global best practices, including transparent reporting relationships, an acceptable span of control, and command structures, compounding related functions for strengthened accountability and a re-determination of optimal staffing levels and norms.