The directive by the government to process imports at the inland container depot in Nairobi is causing pain for medical suppliers who are experiencing stock-outs due to delays in clearing consignments.
The mission for Essential Drugs and Supplies (MEDS), a regional drugs supplier, says this comes at a time when demand for drugs and medical supplies is growing steadily as the government implements universal healthcare coverage programme through the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF).
MEDS Managing Director Dr Jane Masiga says the organisation, which supplies drugs to counties and national government as well as faith-based health facilities countrywide, has experienced stock-outs affecting 201 items over the past seven months, costing it up to Sh114 million in lost sales.
“Due to the congestion at the Nairobi inland depot, consignments are taking weeks to clear and that affects our stocking since we are not able to replenish in good time,” she said during the annual MEDS suppliers conference held at its head offices on Mombasa Road.
Dr Masiga said the situation has also been complicated by delayed payments by health facilities under the NHIF.
While NHIF, which is working to have all Kenyans covered, has become the biggest healthcare financing programme in the country, she said it had come with some challenges.
She noted that as a result of delays in reimbursements from NHIF, health facilities have in the recent past found it hard to cater to their contractual obligations of paying service providers and medicines suppliers.
NHIF is critical in promoting uptake of health services and realisation of the Big 4 agenda of affordable health care for all, she added.
She said NHIF enrolment had increased over the past 5 years resulting in many more patients accessing healthcare services and hence the higher demand for health commodities
Dr Masiga said to mitigate the situation MEDS was negotiating with its suppliers to extend their credit period from between 30 and 60 days to 90 days to sustain supply.
Dr Andrew Mulwa, the CEC Health in Makueni and Chairman of CEC forum for health, revealed that the government was expected to inject Sh60 billion into the health sector in the next five years to strengthen the hiring of human resource as well as plug gaps in commodity availability.
MEDS is a faith-based, not-for-profit organisation based in Nairobi, Kenya. It is a registered Trust of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) and the Christian Health Association of Kenya (CHAK).
MEDS was started in 1986 as an ecumenical partnership to improve access to quality healthcare.
It serves all the 47 counties in the country and has extended its supply chain functions to other African countries such as Chad, DRC, Ethiopia, Malawi, Libya, Ghana, Somalia, South Sudan and Zimbabwe.