Patients wait to receive services at Bahati sub-county hospital in Nakuru. Most hospitals in the county do not have essential drugs. Photo by Irene K.
The national government delayed in disbursing funds to counties and that has caused an acute shortage of essential drugs in Nakuru. 

Services in government hospitals especially have been disrupted by the lack of essential drugs in the past one month.

Health centres and dispensaries have especially been hit hard. Hospitals that offer services for free have also been affected.


Patients seeking treatment in the hospitals are therefore being directed to purchase drugs and other medical items in private owned pharmacists.

“It is true there is a shortage of essential drugs in several hospitals, that is why patients are sometimes asked to purchase drugs,” said Rongai Medical Officer of Health, Stephen Belion.

Belion said the shortage has been experienced for several weeks, making it difficult for healthcare workers to handle patients.

Among hospitals facing an acute shortage in the sub-county include Rongai, Banita and Mogotio dispensaries. These facilities receive a high flow of patients.

“This issue needs to be addressed by the county government,” said the MoH.

Afyawatch established in some county hospitals, patients were forced to purchase drugs from local chemist shops. The essential drugs that are lacking include antibiotics.

Peter Piris chairman of Banita dispensary says it is unfortunate poor patients have been going back home without drugs after receiving treatment.

“Patients have been coming here but they do not receive services. This is despite the fact that we have informed the health department about the shortage of essential drugs, nothing has been done,” said Piris.

Another resident Josiah Kemboi said, “Hospitals are sending patients to purchase drugs from chemists but they are very expensive. Patients therefore opt for painkillers that worsen their health condition,” A resident Josiah Kemboi says.

As if that is not already enough, James Koech says Rongai is also faced with a shortage of clean water, a challenge that may result in water-borne diseases like cholera and typhoid. Couples with the lack of drugs, the situation is bleak.

“This area has in the past reported cases of cholera and unfortunately if they are reported now, we might have increased number of deaths because of drug shortage,” said Koech.

The Rift Valley Provincial General Hospital Superintendent Dr Joseph Mburu says the shortage has not been felt at the facility because they charge for services.

“PGH is not affected by the shortage because patients who come here pay a given fee. That money is used to purchase drugs for various ailments,”  Dr Mburu says.

County director of health services Dr Solomon Sirma is attributing the shortage of essential drugs to a delay in supply by the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa).

Dr Sirma opines that the county has paid Kemsa Sh.60million to supply essential drugs to affected hospitals.

This problem according to Dr Sirma is as a result of the national government failing to disburse funds to counties on time.

“The county contracts Kemsa to supply drugs to hospitals but because of lack of money, we could not procure the drugs for effective and timely service delivery,” he said.

The director says the supplier has been given one week to supply drugs in all hospitals to ensure patients access better medical services