WHO helps Kenya increase public access to affordable medicines

The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) is helping Kenya upgrade its pharmaceutical industry to increase public access to affordable medicines, the organization said on Wednesday.

WHO representative in Kenya, Custodia Mandlhate told a UN pharmaceutical forum in Nairobi that the organization is helping Kenya to develop a national regulatory framework to guide the domestic pharmaceutical industry.

“Enhancing local manufacture of medicines will increase public access to essential drugs,” she said.

The three-day event brought together over 50 researchers and policy makers to review ways of expanding local pharmaceutical industry.

Principal Secretary for Kenya’s Ministry of Health, Khadijah Kassachoon said the provision of safe, effective and affordable essential medicines remains a major challenge in the East African region.

“This is partly due to the limited capacity of our local pharmaceutical manufacturers, ” she said.

The official said the majority of local manufacturers in Kenya have not achieved WHO pre-qualification status which is a requirement for supplying drugs to donor financed projects.

“Financial limitations, limited know-how and lack of national guidelines on this subject,” she said, adding “however, Kenya is on track to achieve international standards”.

The weak industry is further exacerbated by insufficient quality tests for imported drugs and a slight penalty for importation of substandard medicines.

“To deal with these challenges, the government has been working closely with local manufacturers to enhance their competitiveness, ” she said.

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