The Pharmaceutical Society of Kenya president Paul Mwaniki has said that the Pharmacy and Poisons Board cannot guarantee that all medicines circulating in the market are safe.
According to Dr Mwaniki, the government needs to urgently increase the capacity of both the Pharmacy and Poisons Board and the National Quality Control Laboratory with great emphasis put on human resource, technology and equipment for adequate surveillance, detection and testing.
Dr Mwaniki said that there are only 60 pharmacy inspectors in the country against over 10,000 pharmacies.
Of the many pharmacies, almost 50 per cent of them are illegal and run by quacks based mainly in low income urban areas and rural areas.
He was speaking on Thursday at Sarova Whitesands Beach Resort in Mombasa, during the 36th Pharmaceutical Society of Kenya scientific conference.
To him, the government needs to hire about 470 inspectors, 10 in each county, for effective surveillance.
He also urged the government to allocate adequate funds to enable the poisons board and quality control laboratory to employ more officers besides acquiring modern technology.
“The pharmacists will educate patients on dosage, method of administration, therapeutic outcome, side effects, adverse reactions and importance of compliance by the patient before the medicine is given to them,” he said.
He explained that pharmacists are the only trained professionals, who are experts in the manufacture, distribution and retailing of medicine.
On the other hand, The PSK president said the proposed health bill was discriminatory to pharmacists and other health professionals as it reserves all top management positions — both at national and counties — to medical doctors only.
He warned that if the health bill is passed as it is by MPs, it would pose various legal challenges.
Dr Mwaniki said the positions of the director general of health, county director of health, the chief executive officer of the human resource health advisory council and the CEO of health professional’s oversight authority must be open to all health professionals who possess a degree in any human field.
This, he added, would ensure equity in career progression of all health professionals and proper competition in the recruitment of the office bearers.
Anti-Counterfeit Agency chairman Polycarp Igathe, said the agency was cracking down on counterfeit and substandard medicine to ensure Kenyans get quality medicine.
He said the agency was working together with the Kenya Bureau Standards and other regulatory bodies to address the challenge of counterfeit and substandard goods.