SELF-RELIANCE

Kenya to produce HIV, malaria and TB drugs

Government to provide an enabling environment for private sector investment.

In Summary
  • Government will engage the private sector to agree on the necessary incentives required to facilitate local manufacturing of drugs
  • MPs asked to provide legal framework to ring-fence funding for programmes aimed at fighting the three diseases.
Treasury CS Ukur Yatani.
Treasury CS Ukur Yatani.
Image: FILE

The government is pursuing a public-private partnership framework to locally manufacture HIV, malaria and tuberculosis drugs to reduce over-reliance on donors in the war on the three diseases.

National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani said the government is working towards providing an enabling environment for private sector investment.

This is even as his Heath counterpart Mutahi Kagwe asked MPs to develop a legal framework to ring-fence funding for programmes aimed at fighting the three diseases.

Yatani told the Senate Health committee the government will engage the private sector to agree on the necessary incentives required to facilitate local manufacturing of drugs.

“The public-private partnership framework provides for strategic partners to invest in this sector,” he told the committee.

Kagwe, on the other hand, wants an institution established to direct both domestic and off-budget funding.

“It is the desire of every country to achieve self-reliance in providing universal health access to her citizen,” he stated in a memorandum to the same committee.

The country recently faced an acute shortage of ARVs following a standoff between the government and donor agencies.

The shortage was caused by a tax row between Kenya and USAID, which avoided Kenya Medical Supplies Agency and shipped ARVs and test kits through a private US company, Chemonics International.

The standoff was resolved and the drugs distributed to health facilities.

On Monday, Yatani noted that HIV response in Kenya is largely dependent on external resources.

“HIV health commodities are mainly funded by three agencies, the Government of Kenya, the Global Fund and USAID. The funding from Global Fund and USAID are grants and together they fund more than 80 per cent of HIV commodities,” he stated.

The government, through the National Treasury, co-finance the fight against HIV, TB and malaria. This is a requirement to access the Global Fund allocation.

The allocation cycle for the grants from the Global Fund is every three years. The support provided to the government is on-budget allocation to the National Treasury and the Ministry of Health

During the 2018-21 period, the Global Fund grant allocated about $310 million (Sh31 billion) to the government. HIV grant was Sh19.2 billion, Sh7 billion for malaria and Sh4.6 billion for TB.

Yatani noted that the total USAID contribution has been estimated at $500 million (Sh50 billion) per year, both on and off budget combined.

“For the on budget projects, government contribution is mainly in kind in form of personnel, office space, tax exemption and other necessary facilities,” he stated.

Yatani said consultations with the USAID established that the drugs were imported to Kenya without a formal engagement framework.

“In order to facilitate clearance, the drugs were consigned to the American Embassy as a stop measure gap in order to save the situation pending the conclusion of the formal engagement framework,” he explained.

"According to USAID, the delay in the formalisation of the framework was partly occasioned by the elections in the United States.”

Yatani further said the government is striving to increase Kenyan ownership of health, education and social systems.

The majority of Global Fund grants are used for procurement of health products to fight against the three diseases.

Health products funded include antiretroviral drugs, anti-TB medicines, anti-malarial medicines, laboratory commodities, mosquito nets for prevention of malaria, condoms for prevention of HIV, nutrition commodities and health equipment.