Lone MP sets out to remake Kenya’s food and medicines authorities without experts
A private MP’s efforts to reshape Kenya’s approval process for all of its food and medicines has caused alarm among the nation’s professional bodies as his KFDA Bill is now scrutinised by the Parliamentary Health Committee following its first reading in parliament.
"It is essential that parliamentarians now consult widely as they examine this regulatory model that is being abandoned in the USA, South Africa, and in Tanzania, because of the harm it has caused to consumers," said Dr Louis Machogu, President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Kenya.
"Indeed, the Kenyan version is far worse than elsewhere, proposing a new authority with neither medical or food experts to handle life-threatening issues of approvals, in regulation across some vast, mismatched combination of food, medicines, and even tobacco."
The Bill has been tabled by the Hon Dr Robert Pukose, the MP for Endebess Constituency in Trans-Nzoia County, who is now intent on ending the separation of food and medicine approvals and removing the requirements for expertise on the approval authority.
"But food safety requires experts who have mastered the risks posed by food hazards and understand the requirements necessary to manage them across the entire food chain," said Andrew Edewa Food Safety Specialist at the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO). "It is an extremely grave mistake to regulate food and medicines as if they have some common need or crossover and as if the regulation of each requires no knowledge."
The prospect of Kenya flying in the face of the global trend towards specialist approvals overseen by experts has drawn together a growing alliance of professionals and industry bodies united in consternation at the almost silent passage of the Trans-Nzoia doctor’s radical Bill.
Briefing the media in Nairobi today is, PSK, the Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya (FPCK), Association of Public Health Officers of Kenya (APHOK), Kenya Health Professionals Society, Kenya Livestock Marketing Council (KLMC) all condemned the private Bill as a danger and a risk to all Kenyans and urged for its rapid abandonment.
The Agricultural Information Network (AIN), the Kenya Veterinary Association (KVA) and the Federation of Kenya Pharmaceutical Manufacturers (FKPM) have also joined the growing alliance of stakeholders opposed to the Bill, as have the Livestock Council and other bodies.
"Rarely in Kenya’s history have we seen such a potentially catastrophic Bill, and yet it is now hurtling through its moment of public participation virtually unseen by the public. We believe it is our duty to raise the alarm and ensure that the public and representatives in parliament are not hoodwinked into a collective, non-expert approval process that will surely cost Kenyan lives," said Dr Machogu.
"In this, we would like to thank the parliamentary health committee for its collaboration in seeking public feedback in recent days and we hope for a fruitful engagement on this, ensuring that we get the best for Kenyans," he said.