Our History

“Sr. Joan was a role model and a joy to work with. She was very systematic in her way of doing things, a mother, a teacher, an employer and above all a friend.” MEDS Staff

MEDS was officially founded in 1986 to providing reliable, quality, affordable essential drugs and medical supplies to church health units and to train health workers on the  rational use of drugs. The organization has since grown to shape the medical supply chain in Kenya and the wider sub Saharan region by not only providing reliable, quality, affordable essential drugs and medical supplies to over 1,820 health facilities but also to offer capacity building programmes for health workers, quality control and other pharmaceutical services.

1980s
It the mid 1980s, poor economic conditions and reduced budgetary allocation to health care by the Kenyan government left most church health facilities struggling for survival; churches could no longer obtain all their medical supplies from the then Central Medical Supply. Church health facilities which were providing health care services to a sizeable population especially the poor were left suffering largely because they lacked collective bargaining power with pharmaceutical suppliers. Also suffering were the poor Kenyans who depended largely on these facilities for reliable and quality health care services at affordable prices.

Reverend Sister Joane Devane a Medical Missionary and a pharmacist, born in Chicago, USA, was the driving force behind MEDS. During her tenure as the Head of Kenya Catholic Secretariat - Medical Department of the Kenya Episcopal Conference ( no the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops - KCCB), she got firsthand experience of the struggles of the church health facilities. She advocated for the catholic and protestant churches in Kenya to join hands in setting up a joint medical supplies procurement programme.

 1983
The Kenya Catholic Secretariat Medical Department and the Protestant Churches Medical Association (now the Christian Health Association of Kenya - CHAK) agreed to form the joint programme for the purpose of purchase and resale of quality drugs and supplies at a not-for-profit basis to Church Health Facilities in Kenya. The Church joint project named Mission for Essential Drugs and Supplies (MEDS) was set up with two objectives: To procure and store sufficient stock and range of essential drugs and supplies for resale of a not-for-profit basis to church health units and establish a Revolving Fund from the same to sustain the organization’s operations To train doctors and health workers on the rational use of drugs

1985
A feasibility study that led to the establishment of MEDS was carried out by the World Health Organization on behalf of the Kenya Medical Secretariat Medical Department and Protestant Churches Medical Association. The report read in part “Treatment at Church medical facilities in Kenya has become too expensive for many patients particularly in the rural areas. Hospitals and health centers are thus losing patients and their financial situation is deteriorating. Contact with the poorest patients is decreasing and the church medical service is in danger of serving only the relatively well off.” In order to put the health facilities on a sounder financial and administrative footing, the report recommended the adoption of an essential drugs list, training of health workers on rational use of drugs and rational procurement, storage and distribution

1986
MEDS was finally born. MEDS operations were finally launched in September 1986. MEDS began in a single room with two desks in a rented office in Ruraka, Nairobi. Using the Revolving Fund set up with initial donor funding, orders from hospitals were dispatched vial local manufacturers and suppliers.

1987
A warehouse of 3,500 square feet was rented where a wider range of essential drugs were stocked and shipped to health facilities via contracted transport. Memis Medicus Munndi offered assistance in screening overseas suppliers, compiling quotations and placing orders. By the time the first Annual General Meeting was held, MEDS was offering 47 essential drugs for sale to facilities.

1988
In early 1988, a system of administrative procedures were gradually set up including accounting, stock control, suppliers contracts, drug specifications, quality assurance and capacity building. A Pharmacy Field Officer sponsored by MEMISA started visiting health facilities.

Thereafter, MEDS continued its tremendous journey and has since grown to be internationally acknowledged as a World Class Faith-based Medical Supply Chain and Capacity Building Organization.  MEDS current Strategic Plan (2013-2017) focuses largely on penetrating the wider sub Saharan Africa region so as to provide reliable, quality, affordable essential medicines, medical supplies, capacity building, quality control and other pharmaceutical services, not only to Kenyans but also to our African brothers and sisters.

1989
MEDS first interactive forum with clients was held in 1989 and it was then called the MEDS Annual Conference. The name was later changed TO meds Days, which have been held regularly over the years. In an endeavor to meet and exceed clients' expectations, MEDS holds four to five MEDS days in various Counties. These forums provide an opportunity for client to give their feedback on the services offered, suggestions for improvement and also to be informed on MEDS plans and developments.

1992
In 1992, with donor support MEDS purchased the company's premises on Enterprise Road, Industrial Area, Nairobi. Earlier in 1987, MEDS had received start-up capital from SIDA, CEEBEMO, MEMISA, BILANCE and the Government of Netherlands; in 1988, more funds were received from ICCO, IN 1989 there was additional support from EZE, MISEREOR and WHO, with the latter providing revenue grants. In 1992, DANIDA joined the list of donors. These donors continued to fund MEDS operations consistently until 1996.

1995
Since its inception in 1986, MEDS has been a major contributor to health care services in the country - supplying quality and affordable drugs and medicals supplies to church health facilities as well as training health workers. In a bid to ensure easy access to the organizations services by all not for profit health facilities, in 1995, MEDS opened up its markets to other market segments including the Non - Governmental Organizations involved in charitable work and humanitarian aid, foreign and donor - funded segments.

1996
In 1996, MEDS registered its own trade mark. This was to protect MEDS well known name from unscrupulous use through fraudulent means. The registration of the trade mark was renewed in 2003. Donor funding in respect of MEDS operations ceased in 1996. Funding fro Client support services that is Training & HIV/AIDS
and Field Services continued with support from ICO and CORDAID, but gradually diminished as the years progressed.  The funding finally ceased in 2005.

1997
Supply of quality essential medicines is undoubtedly one of the pre-requisites for the delivery of health care. In an effort towards realization of this goal, MEDS set up a Quality Control laboratory in 1997. With the support of various partners, the lab was pre-qualified by the World Health Organization (WHO) in early 2009 and maintained it in 2012 after re-inspection. This well equipped and professionally Laboratory currently analyzes over 50 drug samples every month. The laboratory which complies with Good Practices for National Pharmaceutical Control Laboratories (GPQCL) and WHO's Good  Manufacturing Practices (GMP) ensures the procurement and supply of safe, effective and quality medicines and medical  supplies to health facilities.

2000
As earlier mentioned, since its inception in 1986, MEDS has been a major contributor to health care services in the country -supplying quality and affordable drugs and medicals supplies to church health facilities as well as training health workers. In a bid to ensure easy access to the organizations services by all not for profit health facilities, in 2000, MEDS opened up its markets to the Ministry of Health Government Health facilities. Since then this segment has grown to include various County
health facilities including former provincial, district and sub district health facilities.

2001
Between 2000 and 2001, MEDS joined other organizations to lobby the Kenyan parliament for passing the Industrial Property Act 2001 that gave provisions for importation of patented life saving drugs, which included ARVs. In a few months, the price of ARVs reduced by tenfold, In 2001, MEDS became the first organization in Kenya to do bulk purchasing and distribution of ARVs, even before ARVs were available in the public sector.

2003
In partnership with Johnson and Johnson, with the objective of supporting HIV/AIDS patients, MEDS begun the distribution of the Miconazole Muco- adhesive tablet (MAT) - a drug for opportunistic infections. The number of programmes under this project was later increased to include support to the MEDS Quality Control laboratory; Home Based Care Kits, Support to Community Initiatives, Research in drugs for opportunistic infections and general management support to MEDS.

2004
In 2000, MEDS conducted a joint quantification exercise with the Swedish Development cooperation (SIDA). This resulted in the procurement, warehousing and distribution of essential medicines, medical supplies and laboratory equipment to seven SIDA supported former districts under the Rural Integrated Services Programme.
This multimillion dollar project aimed at supporting the government of Kenya in its efforts to decentralize the health services in line with the National Health Sector Strategic Plan (1999 - 2004). A total of 194 public health facilities within the 7 districts in rural Kenya benefited from this project for 4 years (2001 - 2004).

2004
With funding from the United States International Development Agency - USAID, MEDS began the procurement, warehousing and distribution of ART in Kenya for five years (2004 -2010) as PEPFAR'S prime partner. During this period, over 50% of patients on ARVs in Kenya were served through MEDS supply chain. Other partners who have used the MEDS supply chain for ART include: Clinton foundation, AIDS Relief through Catholic Relief Services, Columbia University and Centre for Disease Control.

2005
From inception in 1986 until 2007, MEDS operated as a programme of the Ecumenical Partnership of Kenya Episcopal Conference (KEC) and Christian Health association (CHAK), on a 50/50 ownership basis. As a programme MEDS did not have the legal status. Under this arrangement, MEDS activities were guided by a Constitution signed between KEC and CHAK. However with developing business trends, it became extremely difficult for MEDS to continue doing business as a programme. It is for this reason among others that MEDS was finally registered as Trust in 2005 with an independent legal status.

2006
In 2006, the Health Sector Support Programme (HSSP II) with technical assistance from DANIDA began the implementation of the pull system with a pilot of all THE Primary health facilities in Coast and North Eastern provinces. A roll out was planned to reach out to all the public health facilities by the end of 2009. 270 health facilities in the Coast and North eastern Provinces
benefited from this programme.

2009
In 1995, the decision was made to set up a Quality Control laboratory in MEDS. This decision was pushed by many factors. The liberalization of the economy led to an influx of medicines into the country from around the world whose quality could not be ascertained. Meanwhile the regulatory mechanisms in the country faced challenges in quality control and the analytical capacity available was limited. Less than 15 years later, in May 2009, the Quality Control laboratory was prequalified by the World Health Organization making it the first faith based organizations' laboratory, the fourth of its kind in sub Saharan Africa and the second of its kind in Kenya.

In 2009, MEDS also began a long and fruitful collaboration with the Division of Malaria Control (DOMC) that exists to date. Since then, MEDS has been contracted by DOMC to train health workers on malaria case management across the country. To date, MEDS has trained over 3,500 health workers from Nairobi, Easter, North Eastern, Nyanza and Rift Valley Provinces.

2010
Between 2001 and 2010, MEDS turnover grew to a high of 5 billion Kenya shillings in the year 2009. This is credited to the clients' willingness to support MEDS and valuable insights and guidance from the Board and Management. In 2010, MEDS successfully completed the USAID USD 100 million, 5 year contract of procurement, warehousing and distribution of ART in Kenya for five years that had started in MEDS being PEPFAR'S prime partner. In partnership with Johnson & Johnson, MEDS also began the implementation of the Infection Control and Prevention of Microbial Resistance program in 2010.

2011
In October 2011, MEDS moved to the state-of-the art premises located along Mombasa Road, opposite Nation Media Group's Printing Press. The complex is on a 5 acre plot of which 4.5 acres is completely taken up by the office block, warehouse, dispatch yard, receiving yard, parking space and water reservoir. The office block comprises three storeys while the warehouse is a massive 10,000 metres square warehouse and 12 metres high thus providing adequate storage space.

The World Health Organization prequalified Quality Control laboratory occupies a spacious 580 metres square on one wing of the office block. The building also has a multi-purpose and various training facilities providing an ideal environment for MEDS to carry out its capacity building programs. This modern facility comes with arranged accommodation facilities, ambience, quality meals, high speed internet connection, serene learning environment, ample parking space and multiple conference rooms.

2013
MEDS is now internationally acknowledged as a World Class Faith-based Medical Supply Chain and Capacity Building Organization. MEDS current strategic plan focuses largely on penetrating the wider sub Saharan Africa region so as to provide reliable, quality, affordable essential medicines, medical supplies, capacity building, quality control and other pharmaceutical services, not only to Kenyans but also to our African brothers and sisters.

MEDS had fully embraced ICT in all its operations, especially in supply chain management using the Customer Relationship Management, a website and bulk SMS System. This enables MEDS to communicate with customers via email, place and track their orders online from the point of receiving an order all the way to the dispatch and better still the possibility of chatting with a customer service officer live via the internet. Orders can also be placed online.