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Kenya pharmacists protest high rates of unregulated medicines

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- The umbrella of pharmacists in Kenya on Thursday decried the high incidences of unregulated medicines in the country after a market study report unearthed the existence of 8 percent prevalence of unregulated medicinal brands in the country.

The study, which was commissioned by the Kenya Association of Pharmaceutical Industry (KAPI), reveals such products, unlike those imported through the official channels, pose grave danger to the patients using them as their efficacy and Quality remains questionable.

"Following the study, KAPI is optimistic that these findings will serve as a basis for broad discussion among stakeholders, to further enhance the regulation, while raising awareness among the general public," KAPI Chairperson Anastasia Nyalita said.

The study was undertaken among 160 practicing retailers through interviews and literature reviews with purchases for 543 products conducted in 326 retail outlets in all the major towns in Kenya.

The study was conducted by pharmaceutical applied researchers from the University of Nairobi School of Pharmacy, focused on nine popular medicine brands and provides a representative sample for a wider market challenge.

Unregulated medicines are those that have entered the market through irregular channels and have not undergone the necessary regulatory scrutiny and market conformity by the Pharmacy and Poisons Board.

Nyalita called for an inter-agency management program and also petitioned the Pharmacy and Poisons Board to consider enhancing its market surveillance activities and fully utilize digital technologies to track shipments and identify unregulated products to ensure that all products available in the Kenyan market are controlled.

She said in order to curb the prevalence of such gray products, KAPI has beefed up its market surveillance efforts and will continue to undertake wider studies to ascertain the full extent of the current challenge in conjunction with the Ministry of Health.

The research’s principal investigator, Joel Lehmann, said that among the sample size, the most affected was a product used to treat high blood pressure.

"For one of the products sampled, the study established that almost 38 percent of the samples purchased for purposes of the study had entered Kenya through an unofficial channel," Lehman said.

He said the products present a greater risk of deficiencies and poor efficacy due to potentially incorrect storage by middle-men, product packaging intended for other climates, and languages that are not understood in Kenya including Arabic, Turkish and German.

The report comes after the World Customs Organization (WCO) and the International Institute for Research Against Counterfeit Medicines (IRACM) recently announced plans to intensify the fight against illicit and counterfeit drugs in Africa.

The plans by the two organizations are based on the results of their fourth common initiative in the fight against fake medicines in African continent after a study they commissioned established that the number of illicit and potentially dangerous pharmaceutical product seizures has reached dramatic proportions, with almost 900 million counterfeit and illicit medicines being seized within the continent.


Kenya launches new strategy to combat cancer amid rising deaths

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s ministry of health in conjunction with multilateral partners and industry on Friday launched a five year national cancer control strategy that seeks to rejuvenate the war against a disease that claims 27,000 lives in the country annually.

Cabinet Secretary for Health, Dr Cleopa Mailu said the comprehensive strategy focuses on targeted investments in diagnostics, public awareness, research and palliative care to reduce the burden of cancer in Kenya.

"The 2017-2022 national cancer strategy aims to inject vitality in public education, early screening and comprehensive care for patients to avert deaths," Mailu said in a speech read on his behalf by the Director of Medical Services, Dr Jackson Kioko.

The East African nation has in the recent past grappled with a spike in cancer cases linked to rapid urbanization, sedentary lifestyles, pollution and physical inactivity among the population.

Mailu said the new cancer strategy whose five strategic pillars focus on early detection, surveillance, palliative care, increased financing and research will hasten attainment of an ambitious goal to eliminate the disease.

"We are taking a radical approach to reduce cancer mortalities in the country and will harness the power of partnerships to finance implementation of the new cancer control strategy," said Mailu.

He added that Kenya has domesticated a global strategy on prevention of non-communicable diseases that include cancers that are currently straining the healthcare infrastructure in the country.

Cancer is the third leading cause of deaths in Kenya after infectious and cardiovascular diseases.

Statistics from the ministry of health indicates that Kenya records over 40,000 cancer cases annually and the number could rise against a backdrop of lifestyle changes, environmental pollution and low awareness levels in the general public.

The Head, Department of Non-Communicable Diseases in the Ministry of Health, Dr Joseph Kibachio said that Kenya aims to set precedence in cancer prevention and care through investments in diagnostic equipment, advanced treatment, research and public education.



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