Kenya’s ministry of health was ordered by President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday to publish details of all purchases made during the COVID-19 pandemic, following allegations that government officials stole millions of dollars of vital medical supplies.
The directive applies particularly to tenders issued by the state-run Kenya Medical Supplies Agency (KEMSA), at the center of a growing scandal that has sparked strikes at ill-equipped hospitals and on the streets.
The agency is under fire over allegations that government officials and businessmen stole $400 million in public funds meant for medical equipment needed in the fight against COVID-19.
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Last week, Kenyatta instructed the anti-corruption commission to expedite its investigation into KEMSA, which is responsible for supplying Kenya’s overwhelmed hospitals treating COVID-19 patients.
KEMSA CEO’s and other officials have been stood down.
The health ministry has been given 30 days to develop a “transparent” system so that KEMSA’s procurement processes could be published online.
“This level of transparency and through the use of technology will go a very long way in ensuring that we have the confidence of our people that those placed in institutions are able to manage the resources of the Kenyan taxpayer plus our development partners in an open and transparent manner,” the president said in a statement.
The KEMSA scandal came after Kenyan investigators vowed a separate inquiry into the alleged theft of PPE supplies donated by Chinese billionaire and Alibaba founder Jack Ma.
The allegations of graft and misappropriation surfaced as new infections of Covid-19 soared across Kenya, though numbers have dipped in recent weeks.