Experts poke holes in proposed food and drugs law

In Summary

• The bill proposes that the regulation of food and medicines be merged and regulated by a single body.

• The KFDA Bill 2019, has been sponsored by Hon Robert Pukose has sailed through its first reading, and is now being examined by the Parliamentary Health Committee.

Officials from various bodies discuss the KFDA Bil in Nairobi on Thursday
Officials from various bodies discuss the KFDA Bil in Nairobi on Thursday
Image: MAGDALINE SAYA

Experts and pharmacists have poked holes in the proposed Kenya Food and Drugs Authority Bill.

The KFDA Bill 2019, has been sponsored by Endebess MP Robert Pukose. It said through the first reading in Parliament, and is now being examined by the Parliamentary Health Committee.

The bill proposes that the regulation of food and medicines be merged and controlled by a single body.

 

Officials drawn from various associations have condemned the private bill as a danger  Kenyans.

They are drawn from the Pharmaceuticals Society of Kenya, the Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya, Association of Public Health Officers of Kenya, Kenya Health Professionals Society and Kenya Livestock Marketing Council.

Others are the Agricultural Information Network, the Kenya Veterinary Association, the Federation of Kenya Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation.

The bill seeks to disband the Kenya Pharmacy and Poisons Board but it does not stipulate which organisation will execute its mandate of accreditation and licensing of pharmacies, regulation of manufacturing and monitoring of adverse drug reactions.

“The bill will repeal CAP 254, which is the Food, Drug, and Chemical Substances Act but does not offer any guideline on how or who will pick up the medical examination of food handlers and licensing of food premises and markets designed to reduce public health risks,” they said in a joint statement.

According to the officials, the control of communicable diseases transmitted due to poor sanitation, and contaminated food and water, such as cholera, diarrhoea, dysentery, typhoid, bilharzia and salmonella will be greatly affected.

 

The bill also includes the regulation of tobacco by the same KFDA body, yet officials argue that tobacco and tobacco products are narcotics and globally and scientifically, they are not classified as health products.

 

They are also concerned that the bill requires zero medical and food specialists’ qualifications for the authority board and does not explicitly outline the expertise requirements for board members.

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,” Andrew Edewa, a food safety specialist at UNIDO said.

They claim the bill will open up an array of risks that will certainly result in deaths ahead.

“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,” PSK president Louis Machogu noted.

“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,” Machogu added.

They have called on the National Assembly health committee to seek their opinion on the matter so as to ensure Kenyans get the best.

They wondered why this is happening yet few countries that had done the same are dismantling their joint authorities because they proved to be so conflicted, inefficient and damaging for consumers.