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Why few drugs reach Nairobi public clinics

Drugs worth millions of shillings have been lost from Nairobi County medical stores through altered records and diversion to private clinics.

But the officer in charge said he was not aware of the alterations before they were spotted by external auditors.

Mr Joseph Samich, who is in charge of the county’s Central Medical Stores at Haile Selassie Avenue, also denied that the alterations were made at the stores and pointed an accusing finger at officers from clinics who collected the drugs.

According to the Kenya National Audit Office report, samples of records obtained at the stores revealed that drug release records varied from receipts from various health centres.

“The records were either doctored and drugs diverted to private clinics or not all the drugs procured were received. From the samples taken, the discrepancies totalling Sh3,212,164 were perpetrated through apparent alteration of the original Store Issue Vouchers,” said the report.

Mr Samich said the papers could only have been altered once they left the stores, but he could not explain how Highridge Clinic, which was demolished, had continued being issued with drugs.

In a sample case, Ms Julia Ndiritu who collected drugs for the Baba Dogo Clinic said the amounts of items she collected had all been altered to differ from the original copy, which was retained at the store.

“I would like to categorically state that 100 tubes of Probeta N eye drops were ordered and none was issued as reflected in my duplicate copy. Ironically, the original copy indicates that 500 tubes were issued,” says her written report.

She added that she had also received 500 ORS sachets, but the original copies had been altered to indicate that 1,500 has been sent.

Mr Samich said the security guard at the entrance could confirm the numbers that were taken but could not prove that the staff at the stores were not compromised.

“I want to categorically say that this officer was issued with 1,500 sachets. They had requested for 2,000. It is illogical to say that we did not issue them,” he said.

The Internal audit and investigations department is probing the losses which the head of procurement, Mr Solomon Obiero, said could be massive. He wants Mr Samich sent on compulsory leave or transferred.

“What the external auditor has done is a sample. So we don’t know the extent of the damage done. It’s advisable that he should not to be there during the probe,” added Mr Obiero.