In 1915 The Headquarter Medical Stores was established and existed as a medical department under the stewardship of Captain J.R. Robertson, the medical storekeeper (Principal Medical Officer).In 1924, the Headquarter Medical Stores created a Medical Department headed by senior Medical officer Dr. J. B. Clarke, the medical storekeeper under the Principal Medical Officer. The office of the Director of Medical Services was also created.
In 1927, Medical Store changed to Medical Stores and Equipment and waslocated at the Kenya and Uganda Railways and Harbors headquarters in Nairobi.
Following Kenya’s independence, the Ministry of Health was created resulting in the integration of Medical Stores and Equipment into the mainframe of the ministry. Medical Stores and Equipment later changed its name to Central Medical Stores (CMS) and maintained its Local station until 1970.
On 30th July 1973 the Permanent Secretary, Office of the President requested that the stores system for medical supplies be re-organized to improve control and accountability. This project commenced on 2nd August 1973 and led to the development of the Central Medical Store Management Information system (CMS/MIS) where more flexible, modifiable and integrated system including control of orders entry, inventory control, sales analysis, financial management and accounts receivable and account payable were integrated. In the same year other regional depots in Mombasa and Kisumu were constructed to serve Coast and Western provinces respectively.
In 1983, CMS reached a crucial stage in its history with the formation of Districts Health Management Teams (DHMTs). CMS later changed its name to Medical Supplies Coordinating Unit (MSCU) and relocated to a warehouse on Commercial Street, Industrial area.
In 1996, the Ministry of Health set up a committee known as MSCU Working Group whose mandatewas to reform and re-structure the MSCU. In 1998, Health stakeholders met at KCCT Mbagathi and recommended setting up an autonomous corporate entity to Plan, Procure, Warehouse and Distribute drugs and other medical supplies to Public Health Facilities.”
Kenya Medical Supplies Agency (KEMSA) was established as a state corporate organization through a legal notice No. 17 of 2000, Cap 466 of the Laws of Kenyain 2000 and was operational in 2005.
Through an ACT of parliament in 2013, The Kenya Medical Supplies Authority Act was assented by the President, leading to a change from being an Agency to an Authority with the following mandate:
Procure, warehouse and distribute drugs and medical supplies for prescribed public health programs, the national strategic stock reserve, prescribed essential health packages and national referral hospitals.
Establish a network of storage, packaging and distribution facilities for the provision of drugs and medical supplies to health institutions.
Enter into partnership with or establish frameworks with County Governments for purposes of providing services in procurement, warehousing, distribution of drugs and medical supplies.
Collect information and provide regular reports to the national and County Governments on the status and cost effectiveness of procurement, distribution and value of prescribed essential medical supplies delivered to health facilities, stock status and any other aspects of supply system status and performance which may be required by stakeholders.
Support County Governments to establish and maintain appropriate supply chain systems for drugs and medical supplies.