Health facilities in Mandera have lacked basic drugs for the last three months, an official has said and asked the Health ministry to take action.
County assembly health committee chairman, Shaban Hassan Hillow, said most affected are health centres and dispensaries in the periphery.
“We are in a very disappointing situation. People are suffering across the county due to lack of drugs in our health facilities,” Mr Hillow said.
He feared that the rains will worsen matters as they come with the risk of disease outbreaks.
“Cases of malaria have been reported in some parts but there are no drugs for the patients,” the Ashabito ward representative said.
“There are a few drugs at the main sub-county hospitals but they will be depleted in the next few weeks."
Mr Hillow challenged the Health ministry to supply drugs, just as the Water ministry provides water during drought.
“The Health minister [has cited] lack of funds but I am shocked because without funds, the Water ministry managed to provide the commodity,” he said.
The MCA accused health officials of laxity in dealing with the drugs shortage in Mandera.
“There is a directive for county governments to get drugs from the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa) but our officers seem unbothered by our people's suffering."
Legal Notice No 137 of August 9, 2013, provides for all county governments to procure medicines from Kemsa, except where a particular commodity is unavailable. In such cases alternative arrangements can be made.
“With or without funds, Kemsa will still give drugs to the county under the arrangement,” Mr Hillow claimed.
However, Mr Hassan Mohamed Ahmed, Mandera's Medical Services Chief Officer, dismissed claims of a drugs shortage in health facilities across the county.
“Our facilities have essential medicine and other supplies,” Mr Ahmed said, noting they were procured in March.
“We get supplies from Kemsa every quarter of a financial year. It is normal [for drugs to be fewer] towards the end of a quarter. We are not experiencing a shortage."
Mr Ahmed noted, however, that the number of patients increased with the rainy season.
He also said, “The distance between Mandera and Nairobi presents a challenge in getting supplies on time and the poor roads complicate the situation."
The official said facilities in the outskirts get their drugs from sub-county hospitals.
A medical officer at Mandera County Referral Hospital told the Nation that the facility was short of drugs.
“We only have painkillers. 'Nothing serious' is in our stores. Patients are asked to buy medicine outside the facility,” said the medic who sought anonymity.
A spot check found a handful of patients in some wards and sources said some families moved their patients to private hospitals over lack of drugs and food.
“Suppliers have stopped brining food to the hospital due to non-payment. We have nothing to give to patients,” a cook said.
Mr Ahmed admitted that the main hospital's suppliers were yet to be paid were yet to be paid but arrangements were underway to have them paid within the week after the county received funds on Monday.