3 NGOs join case against Kemsa drugs supply monopoly

Wednesday March 18 2020
Kemsa boss

Kemsa chief executive Jonah Manjari speaks during a media briefing in Nairobi on March 2, 2020. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NATION EDIA GROUP

By JOSEPH WANGUI

A three-judge bench hearing a case challenging the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority's state as the sole supplier of drugs to counties has allowed three non-governmental organisations to participate in the dispute.

Justices Jairus Ngaah, Teresiah Matheka and Anthony Ndung’u allowed Katiba Institute, Mission for Essential Drugs and Supplies (Meds) and the Pharmaceutical Society of Kenya to join the case as interested parties.

Subsequently, the bench directed the interested parties to file and serve their documents to pave way for expeditious determination of the matter described as a supremacy battle between the Senate and the National Assembly.

The Attorney-General is a respondent in the case.

THE CASE

The Senate and the Council of Governors (CoG) sued the National Assembly for enacting and passing laws without the input of senators.

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While accusing the National Assembly of overlooking and undermining it on matters legislation, the Senate sought enforcement of a framework binding it to a decision-making process based on consensus.

The dispute between the two Houses started last year after President Uhuru Kenyatta signed the Health Laws Amendment Act into law, making it mandatory for counties to source their drugs from Kemsa.

The council wants counties allowed to buy drugs and medical supplies from different dealers.

In attacking the new health laws, the CoG says Kemsa has been jeopardising health services at the grassroots due to delays or failure to deliver drugs and equipment.

INDEPENDENCE

The CoG also argues that the law is a threat to the independence of county governments.

It further says inadequacies at Kemsa put the lives of Kenyans at risk and interferes with access to health services.

The contested health laws introduced a penalty of Sh2 million or five years' imprisonment, or both, for any county or national government official who sources drugs from other firms.

COMPONENTS

According to the governors, the National Assembly erred by amending and enacting the law without taking them to the Senate for deliberations, considering they touched on health, which is a devolved function.

The laws contain several legislations including the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority Act, the Pharmacy and Poisons Act, Clinical Officers (Training, Registration and Licensing) Act and the Medical Practitioners and Dentists Act. 

Others are the Nurses Act, the Kenya Medical Training College Act and the Nutritionists and Dieticians Act, the Nutritionists and Dieticians Act, the Counsellors and Psychologists Act, the Physiotherapists Act and the Health Records and Information Managers Act.

The case will be mentioned on May 4 for directions on highlighting submissions.