A healthier tomorrow: Reflections of a KEMSA change agent

April 8, 2022 - Reading Time: 3 minutes - By The Vellum Team
By Mary Mwadime

The world has just celebrated World Health Day, which commemorates the  April 7, 1948 founding of the World Health Organization (WHO). This global organisation has played a vital role in advancing positive health outcomes.

On this recent occasion, I spared some time to reflect on the essence of this auspicious day with some local spice.

I was particularly captivated by the adopted theme this year, focusing on our planet and health. It was also a reflection moment for me, as it almost coincides with my first anniversary as the chairperson of the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (KEMSA).

As a career supply chain specialist, I must confess I had never pictured myself as the chair of such a formidable institution. However, those who know me know that I am outrightly passionate about facilitating supply chain excellence, particularly in the health sector and gender empowerment fields.

Sitting at my office desk, I silently perused and skimmed through World Health Day material. Some of the material posed profound questions that took me on a reflective journey.

Sample this:

  • Are we able to reimagine a world where clean air, water and food are available to all?
  • Where economies are focused on health and well-being?
  • Where cities are liveable, and people have control over their health and the health of the                   planet?

See, I couldn’t help but add the question: Are we able to guarantee timely delivery of medical supplies to the remotest parts of this country and the world?

Suffice to say that the envisaged planet and cities where people have control of their health and that of the planet cannot be realised with dysfunctional access to Health Products and Technologies. 

The streamlining of access to last-mile destinations; in the far-flung areas such as Rusinga Island in Homa Bay County, Kibich in Turkana County, or even the closest health centres such as Korogocho, in Nairobi, is not rocket science. However, we cannot afford to shun contemporary technologies or processes that guarantee efficiency in the public medical supply chain space.

Over the years, supply chain practitioners have pursued several models that guarantee efficient delivery of products. From complex parts used to manufacture aircraft in Everett, Washington in the United States, or even the clockwork, mind-boggling movement of supplies, transmission technology, equipment, cars and fuel for Formula One racing teams.

If it can be done for such complex assignments, we can undoubtedly get the supply chain solution right for life-saving health commodities.

Over the last few months, KEMSA has made tremendous progress focused on organisational reforms. The Authority adopted Information Technology solutions and streamlined procurement and inventory management while wading through human resource management challenges to ensure that the organisation remains fit for purpose.

The organisation also made significant progress to guarantee the success of the Universal Healthcare Coverage (UHC) national scale up, including reducing the order turnaround time from 46 days in February 2021 to 16 days at the end of February 2022. 

To enhance integrity for deliveries to more than 11,000 health facilities countrywide, the Authority is also actively utilising the award-winning KEMSA Electronic Proof of Deliveries or e-POD App in more than 45 counties. The KEMSA e-POD app keeps track of KEMSA supplies to primary health facilities.

In recent days, we have also commenced the automated procurement rollout, including issuing certified electronic local purchase orders (LPOs). To guide local manufacturers and boost their competitiveness, we have also posted to the KEMSA website Specifications for Essential Diagnostic Supplies (SEDS) and Specifications for Essential Medical Supplies (SEMS) to ensure alignment with the Kenya Essential Medicines list.

Undoubtedly, as we mark the World Health Day season, I celebrate the selfless, patriotic Kenyans working at KEMSA who have taken concrete steps to facilitate positive health outcomes by prioritising the well-being of our compatriots. I also seek your support and co-operation to enable KEMSA perform better for a  #HealthierTomorrow.
Mary Mwadime is a Supply Chain Specialist and Chairperson Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (KEMSA). Email: Chair@kemsa.go.ke 

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