SOME local Ministry of Health suppliers are hesitant to supply medical and pharmaceutical items to the ministry because of the outstanding debt owed to them amounting to K900 million.

The suppliers, who sought anonymity in separate interviews, said they have had meetings with the Ministries of Health and Finance, which failed to yield anything.

The suppliers said their companies were distressed because of the debt.

“Most of the supply companies have not been paid for two years! They have really killed and depressed the industry because, as a result, the companies can’t stock properly because their monies are held up. So, for that reason, we had a meeting with the Ministry of Health to talk about this high debt, we didn’t get much joy. We wrote to the Ministry of Finance and nothing still. They only paid a K300,000 to someone who is owed millions! Somebody who is owed K20 million was paid K500,000, it is a drop in the ocean! This is a life-saving sector and most of our companies are going bankrupt now. You will not see any reliable companies going there; they all stopped because they are demanding for their payments,” said the sources.

“A bona fide supplier will not waste time at the Ministry of Health; they are just waiting for donor tenders, USAID tender, global fund tenders…that is what they are trying to survive on. Companies are so distressed. When we go to complain at the Ministry, they say, ‘there are no funds.’ We signed contracts that, within 30 days, they are supposed to pay. The debt is blocking the pharmaceutical companies. As of April, 2019, the debt was K900 million outstanding for both foreign and local suppliers. Some of the companies have stopped supplies. Pharmaceutical companies, like us, don’t even want to go to the Ministry of Health to participate in any tender. We know that nothing is happening at that Ministry. I remember at the University Teaching Hospital (UTH), they had run out of gloves in April, they went begging at Sterelin (Medical and Diagnostics Ltd) for supplies, and Sterelin told them, ‘you will have to pay us cash or we will not give you anything’.”