Kenyan governors have cautioned that a  staggering 1.1 million Kenyans living with HIV risk compromised health and even death due to increased HIV-related infections and massive drug resistance.

The cause of the above is due to a precarious situation pitting the government against the United States Agency for International Development. Basically, the Kenyan government and USAID have been in a protracted stalemate over a large batch of antiretroviral treatment as well as other donated health supplies that have been detained at the Port of Mombasa since mid-January.

The contentious issue has been the entity to preside over the distribution of the drugs: KEMSA or the U.S.-based private company Chemonics.

Over the past 20 years, HIV commodities have significantly been supported by US Government and the Global Fund. These Commodities include ARVs, laboratory consumables, reagents, and HIV testing kits but now the USAID is alleging Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (KEMSA) is corrupt and would rather have another firm undertake the handling of the drug distribution.

All these have made governors in Kenya a collectively disturbed lot because of the prevailing lack of ARVs as there is a looming shortage as of 1st July 2021 which will pose a potential crisis in the continuity of HIV care.

“As a matter of urgency, we call upon the Ministry of Health and USAID to immediately procure a third-party agent to handle the warehousing and distribution of the health commodities that are stuck at the port. Further, they are to distribute these commodities to all County facilities before 20th June 2021,” said H.E Vice-chair of the council, James Ongwae

“In the long-term, both levels of government need to discuss sustainable HIV interventions and how we can reduce dependence on donors on such critical matters. We need to look internally and begin to rely on ourselves in the procurement of these critical commodities,” he added

USAID and KEMSA had a five-year contract that ended in 2020 and the former opted to work with the Global Health Supply Chain – Procurement and Supply Management — implemented by Chemonics and a consortium of partners — to procure HIV, malaria, and family planning commodities for Kenya instead of KEMSA. This is largely because last year, KEMSA faced allegations of corruption and mismanagement of COVID-19 funds.

In a recent ‘extraordinary meeting to discuss issues affecting county governments the governors also noted the trend of impeachments in the last one year giving  Kiambu County, Nairobi City County, and now Wajir County as examples.

“While we appreciate the fact that impeachment is both a legal and a political process, the rule of law should prevail while undertaking the same. All the bodies involved should ensure that they are guided by the Constitution and the principles laid down by the courts on the threshold of impeachment, “said vice-chair of the council H.E James Ongwae

He was quick to assure the public that the council values integrity and accountability in the running of public affairs in the Counties.

“Nevertheless, oversight bodies must remain cognizant of the legal principles surrounding impeachment so that the exercise is not abused. The Council shall engage relevant institutions with a view to streamlining court pronouncements with the law so that the impeachment process can be anchored in legitimacy and impartiality,” said Ongwae

At the meeting, the council was, however, impressed by the NHIF Report on gazettement of County Health Facilities The Council has had previous discussions with the Ministry of Health on the NHIF cover as part of the UHC agenda, specifically refunds to the County Health facilities which were low and sometimes non-existent. An agreement was reached with the Ministry of Health and NHIF on this matter.

In this regard, County Governments have reviewed the list of NHIF contracted Health facilities with a view to verify that indeed they are County facilities as well as updating the existing list to include the new facilities which were unlisted with NHIF. These facilities will be instrumental in the implementation of Universal Health Coverage.

The list of health facilities from the Counties will be forwarded to the NHIF to ensure that they are contracted in the exercise that is set to begin on 1st July 2021