Kenya: KEMSA CEO talks about plans to dismantle corruption cartels



Kemsa is seen as a “cash cow” for politically correct and well-connected bidders. How do you plan to dismantle these cartels and restore the reputation of your institution? Oloo Oyuga, Kisumu

The era of a Kemsa seen as a cash cow is now over. With the adoption of revised operating procedures and information technology-based processes that focus on minimal human intervention, we are on track to increase our levels of integrity. We also work closely with various oversight bodies to ensure constant monitoring of our operating procedures and to strengthen our governance and ethical standards.

Learning from the Covid-19 pandemic, which required emergency purchasing outside of standard operating procedures, we looked at various elements, including emergency purchasing guidelines. These guidelines also focus on contract management and supplier performance measurement and management.

A recent study by development partners on the country’s enormous external debt recommended a merger of some parastatals. In Kemsa’s case, what steps can you prescribe to re-energize the authority to become a for-profit agency in line with its mandate? Dan Murugu, Nakuru

The current reforms we are undertaking aim to strengthen good practices / procedures in, inter alia, finance and procurement. As a supply chain organization, we are supported by the fees we collect for providing a service. Being more effective in our mandate will ensure that we remain competitive in our offering, thereby attracting the reward costs necessary to revitalize the organization.

In addition, we are developing a whistleblower policy that will safely report any activity that violates the organization’s mandate.

What do you plan to do with your position to restore confidence and maintain good relationships with donors, especially the Global Fund, following the ongoing audits? Yussuf Juma, Mombasa

In my current role, I actively work to restore trust and nurture relationships with all of our stakeholders. We continue to receive immense support from the Kemsa Board of Directors and other stakeholders, which keeps us moving forward.

In addition to the human resource base, we have implemented world-class risk management processes. These processes are compared to donor requirements. For example, the authority is currently committing the Global Fund to a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that will reflect the expanded coordinating role of the Global Fund Coordinator through its program office. Additionally, the MoU should include key performance indicators (KPIs) and standard reporting formats to improve organizational performance monitoring.

As interim CEO of KEMSA, what assurances can you give Kenyans and your partners that corruption cases will be dealt with during your stewardship? Marcus Mathuku, Kajiado

I have given personal assurance to the board of directors and all other stakeholders of Kemsa that I intend to lead an organization that has zero tolerance for corruption. For this reason, we have put in place measures to mitigate transplant opportunities and fill in the gaps. For example, last week we hosted a pre-offer conference for hundreds of potential suppliers.

For the first time, we have launched calls for tenders which will be uploaded, submitted and evaluated on the Ifmis platform. This minimizes transplant acts by reducing the possibilities of human intervention. For example, without a tax compliance certificate uploaded to Ifmis, a supplier cannot proceed to the evaluation stage. Therefore, one cannot become a supplier without meeting the mandatory requirements.

This approach also promotes fair play and competitiveness, which allows Kemsa to access better prices and pass the profits on to our customers.

What reforms have been proposed to address management failures and recent unfortunate disruptions in the supply of essential anti-HIV drugs to KEMSA? Lydia Mwangi, Nairobi

This issue has now been addressed in a tripartite collaboration involving the Ministry of Health, our donor partners and the authority. We have designed and are implementing priority reforms that ensure end-to-end accountability.

We have also set up communication platforms for consultative dialogue between partners, enabling rapid escalation and resolution of technical challenges, including tax enforcement and exemptions. These reforms require the co-optation of relevant agencies such as the Kenya Revenue Authority and the Kenya Ports Authority to ensure operational efficiency.

Sir, what mitigation measures have been put in place to ensure the timely supply of health products, including for Covid-19, that are urgent, regardless of ongoing investigations? Shariff Mohamed, Thika

Perhaps as a testament to the resilience of the business and Kemsa’s good business continuity plans, we have maintained an ongoing operational focus throughout the pandemic. We have successfully fulfilled over 90% of orders placed by the more than 8,000 public health facilities we serve.

In particular, we made sure to comply with all Covid-19 management protocols. A healthy team in Kemsa is able to serve health facilities.

The introduction of a supplier performance measurement tool has also enabled us to increase our operational efficiency. In supply chain management, these tools promote the timely delivery of quality-assured products to our stores, effectively enabling us to distribute on time.

As interim CEO, have you put in place a system of checks and balances to ensure the efficient procurement, storage and distribution of medical supplies in the counties to prevent some governors from claiming that they have the right? latitude to obtain these products directly from the pharmaceutical industry? companies? Richard Kenji, Nairobi

As we undertake the reforms that will increase internal efficiency, we are also listening to customers to continue to build a more lasting relationship.

The Kemsa Act of 2013 currently requires counties to purchase all of their medical products from us. We have proposed changes to this law to say that counties are allowed to buy elsewhere for what they cannot get from us. It will require that we be very efficient in our operations to be the primary supplier of health products by choice and not necessarily by law.

Medical needs cannot be postponed and it is important that we maintain supplies to healthcare facilities on an ongoing basis. As part of the board and management team’s goal of fostering consultative engagement, we reach out to the Board of Governors to establish a liaison that allows us to engage effectively through established frameworks.

We sincerely want to listen to our stakeholders and make sure that we are flexible and dynamic enough to meet their unique needs, because a one-size-fits-all approach is not sustainable.

As the only government medical supply agency, how do you plan to support the establishment of universal health coverage? Fatuma Mumba, Mombasa

As part of our strategic plan, we have identified priority areas to enable us to ensure the success of universal health coverage (UHC). Kemsa’s role in the success of UHC is the provision of quality, accessible and affordable health products and technologies (HPT).

By procuring HPT centrally at the national level, we have large enough volumes to allow us economies of scale. We intend to optimize this to reduce drug costs and pass cost-benefit to mwananchi. This will directly reduce the costs of the service at the health facility level.

We are also in the process of decentralizing our distribution into four zones to improve service delivery by reducing order processing time. Our Kisumu distribution area, for example, will serve 19 counties, Mombasa will serve six counties, Meru will serve 11 counties in northern Kenya, and the rest will be served from Nairobi.

Kemas has the most extensive logistics and distribution network of any government agency in Kenya. How do you plan to expand your reach to cover the whole country? Mbiki Mwima, Kiambu County

At Kemsa, we are now focused on optimizing and ensuring that we take full advantage of our unique selling proposition. By far, we are the best-resourced and best-positioned health products and technology (HPT) supply chain solutions provider in sub-Saharan Africa.

We provide reliable, affordable and quality health products and supply chain solutions aimed at improving healthcare in Kenya and beyond. Going forward, we are optimizing our capabilities by adopting technology solutions and focusing on decentralizing service delivery to complement our sourcing capabilities.

Technically, this means that we will integrate the entire value chain to obtain cost and time synergies. It also means working closely with local manufacturers to ensure that we make just-in-time purchases and maintain optimal stocks based on accurate demand projections. We have a distribution network that delivers last mile delivery to over 8,000 facilities in all 47 counties.

Next week: Mr. Simon Gicharu, President of the National Association of Private Universities of Kenya (NAPUK)



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