Millions of Kenyans are at risk of missing out on essential drugs in public hospitals due to the failure by county governments to service a Sh1.1 billion debt they owe the Kenya Medical Supplies Agency (Kemsa).
Those at greatest risk are residents of 14 counties, whose debts run into tens and hundreds of millions of shillings for unpaid deliveries accrued over time.
Leading in the category of counties which owe Kemsa huge amounts of money are Nairobi (Sh234 million), Narok (Sh104 million), Homa Bay (Sh81 million), Kilifi (Sh78 million), Kiambu (Sh76 million), Migori (Sh58 million) and Machakos (Sh50 million).
County governments that have failed to service their debts over the last three months include Bungoma (Sh25 million), Busia (Sh8 million), Homa Bay, Kericho (Sh26 million), Kiambu, Kilifi, Kisumu (Sh35 million), Machakos, Migori, Mombasa (Sh17 million), Murang’a (Sh46 million), Nairobi, Narok, Taita Taveta (Sh49 million) and Trans Nzoia (Sh41million).
Kemsa has since suspended Governor Samuel Tunai’s Narok County for failing to demonstrate any commitment to clear the debts.
The counties have consistently blamed their failure to pay Kemsa on the National Treasury's delay to disburse money to the devolved units.
What is clear, however, is that in many instances, it is a question of misplaced priorities — counties prioritise the funding of projects such as official residences at the expense of es