INSPECTION

Concerns as drugs agency defies court on university course inspections

Board informed the institutions it will conduct the inspections between June 6 and June 9

In Summary
  • He argued the board is mandated to regulate and approve pharmacy training and training of pharmacy practitioners.
  • Universities Act of 2016, which gave CUE powers to approve, regulate and license degrees, diplomas and other post graduate courses offered at universities.
Health CS Mutahi Kagwe.
Health CS Mutahi Kagwe.
Image: FILE

The national drugs regulator has defied court orders after it announced a schedule to inspect universities and colleges offering pharmaceutical courses.

This is against an order issued to the Pharmacy and Poisons Board stopping the exercise and it risks being cited for contempt of court, officials said.

The Board informed the institutions it will conduct the inspections between June 6 and June 9, which is in conflict with the law and court orders that demand the universities regulator—Commission of University Education (CUE)—to conduct the quality checks.

"The board wishes to inform you that an appointed team of inspectors will be visiting your institutions on the stated dates," read the letter to vice-chancellors of universities and principals of colleges signed by the regulator’s CEO, Wilfred Ochieng.

He argued the board is mandated to regulate and approve pharmacy training and training of pharmacy practitioners.

This is a departure from the Universities Act of 2016, which gave CUE powers to approve, regulate and license degrees, diplomas and other post graduate courses offered at universities.

A group of professional bodies had challenged the amendment of the Universities Act, which came into effect on January 2017, saying it was unconstitutional and its implementation will hurt their roles in oversight, licensing and supervision of professional education.

Justice James Makau dismissed the petition, saying the regulatory bodies failed to demonstrate how the amendment of the Act violated their rights and freedoms.

The bodies filed an appeal, but the Appellate court in December declined to suspend sections of the law pending the conclusion of the suit.

A Kenyan, Juma Okumu, has written to Health Cabinet secretary Mutahi Kagwe over the latest move by the board.

He said the implication of the court order is that the regulation and accreditation of academic programmes for pharmacy training institutions as well as other professional trainings is the sole mandate of the Commission for University Education and not the board.

He said it is illegal and unlawful for the board to purport to inspect universities, colleges and polytechnics that offer pharmacy training including diploma in pharmaceutical technology/pharmacy as communicated by the board.

“By this letter we seek an intervention that your office to which the Pharmacy and Poisons Board is answerable rescinds or withdraws the unlawful memorandum dated May 3, 2021 to safeguard respect for our laws,” he said in the letter.

The letter was written by lawyer Cheboi Chelimo on June 4.