John Kabuchi officially appointed as Kemsa’s acting CEO.

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The scandal-hit Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa) has relieved Mr Edward Njoroge of his duties as the acting chief executive officer in new leadership changes announced on Wednesday.

The board of directors of the medical supplies agency appointed the procurement manager for donor-funded programmes, Mr John Kabuchi, as the new acting CEO effective December 28.

Mr Njoroge will resume his previous role as director of operations, according to an internal memo sent to all Kemsa staff by the director of human resources and administration, Mr Ebla Mohamed.

Mr Kabuchi is also the chairman of the Covid-19 vaccines procurement and logistics committee.

The board of directors arrived at the decision to replace Mr Njoroge during a meeting held on December 20.

“Kabuchi takes over from Edward Njoroge whose acting ceases with immediate effect as he resumes his previous role as director, operations,” the memo reads.

Kemsa scandal

Mr Njoroge was appointed the acting CEO in August 2020 following the suspension of former Kemsa boss, Mr Jonah Manjari, who was later sent packing following the shameful Sh7.8 billion scandal involving the purchase of items for use in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr Njoroge has been involved in vicious fight with Legal Affairs Director Fredrick Wanyonyi Simiyu whom he accuses of leaking the procurement mess that saw a few individuals pocket billions of shillings after supplying the agency with equipment at prices well above the market rates.

Mr Simiyu sued Kemsa and Mr Njoroge for the attempt to sack him for allegedly whistleblowing and failing to advise the state agency on whether procurement of Covid-19 supplies was done in line with the law.

Mr Manjari was suspended alongside directors Eliud Muriithi (Commercial) and Charles Jume (Procurement).

Drugs supply to counties

Mr Kabuchi takes over as the agency is staring at the danger of losing exclusive rights to supply drugs and medical equipment for county hospitals.

If the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2021 which is before Parliament sails through, it will hit hard Kemsa sales and provide a fertile market for private pharmaceutical firms.

The Bill seeks to change the law and give counties a free hand in choosing private suppliers for drugs and medical kits for their hospitals.

The Kemsa Act of 2013 makes it compulsory for the 47 counties to exclusively procure drugs and medical equipment from the state agency, giving Kemsa a huge and ready market.

Governors have been blaming the agency over drugs shortage in the counties due to delays by Kemsa in delivering supplies.

The county bosses say ‘long’ processes and clearance has seen several hospitals go without drugs.

The authority has been undergoing a series of radical changes after being marred by procurement scandals that saw over 900 workers sent home in early November and their positions declared redundant. 

Parliament later backed the decision as the National Assembly’s Health committee said it has been assured that the reforms would be undertaken in a humane manner and in strict compliance with the law.

The committee asked the affected employees “to be at peace and wait for the reform process to go on” to its logical conclusion.

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