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Kenya: Pharmacists allege threats by MPs over Health ministry budget

The Pharmaceutical Association of Kenya (PSK) has formally complained to the National Assembly over alleged intimidation and threats by members of the health committee, whom it says want to stifle the proposed budgetary allocation to the Health ministry for the 2019/20 financial year.

In a letter to House Clerk Michael Sialai, PSK President Dr Louis Machogu warned the threats will adversely boomerang against President Uhuru Kenyatta’s universal health coverage goal, one of the four pillars of his Big Four Agenda.

The legacy of the President, who is serving his second and last term, is centred on health, affordable housing, manufacturing and food security.

“We note with great concern that members are seen to be watering down health standards and best practices for medicine handling,” states the February 26 letter copied to House Speaker Justin Muturi, committee chairperson Sabina Chege and Head of Civil Service Joseph Kinyua.

“They have further gone ahead and threatened the ministry to cripple its delivery of the Big Four agenda. This is shameful and saddening and we wonder, whose interests are the committee’s?” the letter of 2019, reads in part.


Last week, the committee members expressed concern over the decision by the ministry to “misadvise” the President into rejecting the Health Laws (Amendment) bill in December 2018 through a memorandum to the MPs.

At a previous meeting, they and the ministry agreed that nursing commodities such as syringes, bandages and gloves, which are non-pharmaceutical in nature, be regulated by the Nursing Council of Kenya (NCK).

This decision was taken pending the formation of the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) as contemplated in the Health Act, an authority which is yet to be operationalised.

However, the committee was taken aback last week after it realised that the ministry had advised the President to have the commodities under the Pharmacy and Poisons Board (PPB).

Though the committee did not threaten to frustrate the ministry’s budget, it was furious with the move and not even the explanation by the ministry’s Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS), Mr Rashid Amin, made a difference.


Ms Chege, the committee chairperson, denied the claims by the PSK stating that having the nursing commodities under the PPB would escalate nurses’ issues.

She also noted that the health workers, who are currently on strike, are likely to cast negative aspersions against the MPs “for working with cartels in the health sector to undermine them”.

“You already have enough problems with the nurses. Why do you want to start another fight that you will not be able to manage? It is not in our interest to create more,” Ms Chege told Mr Amin.

“The committee will not want to be caught in the interests of businessmen,” she said, with Sabatia MP Alfred Agoi adding; “If the President’s memorandum sails through, it will cast parliament in bad light because then, the public see us as having gone to do business with cartels and nurses will never forgive us.”


Interestingly, Nursing Council of Kenya Registrar Edna Talam, who attended the meeting last week, said there was no problem with the PPB’s regulation of the commodities.

On Tuesday, Dr Machogu said that as far as the nursing commodities are concerned, the committee was grossly misinformed on global best practices and what is ideal for the country.

“A patient may get a life threatening infection from non-conforming cotton or wake up during surgery due to non-conforming syringes if these standards are not safeguarded by a single regulator of medicines and health products.”

The PSK further noted that the non-pharmaceutical commodities also have technical specifications, just like medicines that need to be controlled for patient safety.

By Daily Nation

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