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Sack KEMSA boss, says probe team

NAIROBI, October 21 – The taskforce set up to investigate inefficiencies at the Kenya Medical Supplies Agency (KEMSA) has recommended the sacking of the Chief Executive Officer Charles Kandie for failing to implement board decision and provide leadership.

The taskforce which handed its report to Medical Services Minister Anyang Nyong’o on Tuesday proposed that a new CEO be recruited competitively and appointment of a leaner and representative board with reduced government representation.

“He (Kandie) failed to make relevant consultations with the parent ministry and implement guidelines provided by the State Corporations Advisory Committee and poor supervision,” Professor Muga said of the CEO who has been on compulsory leave for the past four months.

The team headed by Richard Muga said that the private sector should be included in the new board which should take into account diversity in expertise, experience and cross-sector representation.  The taskforce which carried out a three-month probe blamed the Ministry of Medical Services and the KEMSA board for interfering with the management of the institution.

“The board for some reason was divided. The management too was sucked into the acrimonious affairs in the board,” the report concluded. “The heavy representation of the Ministry including two Permanent Secretaries makes it difficult to foster the autonomy of the agency. This fundamentally results in undue interference in the operations of the agency and instances of conflict of interest.”

The probe team added that parallel procurement of drugs by the government and donors added to the woes at KEMSA.

Professor Muga pointed out that the institution was yet to fully operationalise its legal mandate eight years after its inception and concluded: “There is a glaring disconnect between KEMSA’s mandate and operational function.  Whereas its primary objective is to develop and operate a viable commercial service for the procurement and sale of drugs and medical supplies, the ministry continues to undertake the procurement.”
The taskforce said that KEMSA should be restructured and reorganised to allow recruitment of suitable staff and rationalisation.  “KEMSA should undertake an urgent human resources audit of skills, expertise and numbers required in various departments in line with the anticipated reorganisation,” the report went on to say.

Although Professor Muga said a new KEMSA could be up in two months, Professor Nyong’o said that this depended on how fast Parliament and the Cabinet would pass new statutes. “These things will not be reality tomorrow but they will be implemented within a time action plan (to be prepared by his ministry) which would result in sustainable action,” he said.

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Although the government uses billions of shillings to purchase medical supplies, many institutions especially in the rural areas lack the required drugs as a result of corruption and inefficient distribution channels. To counter this, the probe team recommended that KEMSA subcontracts its warehouse management function.

The Medical Services Minister has said that a Cabinet paper would be prepared with the aim of giving KEMSA the legal mandate to operate as an autonomous non-profit making institution. He added that an Act of Parliament would also be necessary to give the corporation a well defined statutory underpinning.

He said that capacity building at the institution would be given top priority to help it fulfil mandate as the sole purchaser and distributor of pharmaceutical and non pharmaceutical commodities.” Lets us give this responsibility to the body that spends all its time doing nothing else but that. Then we shall avoid the pitfalls,” he said.

Professor Nyong’o disbanded the board and subsequently appointed the taskforce in July following a crisis in government medical institutions. John Munyu was appointed acting CEO after Dr Kandie was sent packing.

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