Mugo summoned over toxic food aid

November 2, 2011 12:41 pm


Public Health Minister Beth Mugo/ File
NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 2 – The Ministry of Public Health is now being accused of protecting the Directors of Proctor and Allan, one of the companies involved in the supply of food stuffs to hungry children under the Kenyans4Kenyans initiative, that is said to be contaminated.

The allegations came up in Parliament on Wednesday morning after Cabinet Minister Beth Mugo and her assistant minister stepped out of the House moments before an order requiring them to issue a government statement on the aflatoxin scandal came up.

Yatta MP Charles Kilonzo and Ikolomani’s Bonny Khalwale accused the two of deliberately skipping the session in a bid to cover up the scandal involving the supply of contaminated Unimix to an estimated 60,000 children, even though they were aware of the events surrounding it.

“The company involved in this matter, Mr Speaker is Proctor and Allan. The names involved here are big names; names like Charles Nyachae, Eddy Njoroge and many others. So when you see companies with big names and the government deliberately avoiding to discuss them, we know that they are obviously being influenced by the directors,” Kilonzo claimed.

The other firm that was involved in the supply of the Unimix was Sai Millers.

During the heated debate, Mugo was directed to issue the said statement on Wednesday afternoon, even though the session is normally reserved for the Prime Minister.

When Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta was directed to inform Mugo of the developments, he attempted to have it issued on Thursday afternoon as he might be unable to reach her.

However the plea was rejected with deputy Speaker Farah Maalim maintaining that it must be issued as directed given the gravity of the matter.

Maalim also accused the Executive of risking the lives of young children by seeming to protect the said company from further scrutiny.

“Now we have a situation in which we are not mortgaging our future but we are actually killing our future and under those circumstances the Chair takes very serious note and directs that the minister issues the statement this afternoon,” he stressed amidst applause.

Bura MP Abdi Nuh also accused the government of negligence saying the responsible ministry should be censured over the scandal.

“Being allowed to die slowly from cancer related issues won’t be accepted. We need to censure the Ministry of Public Health for neglecting the lives of Kenyans just because they are perceived to be poor and that rather than them dying in two days out of hunger, they should die in three years out of cancer,” retorted a visibly angry Nuh.

Kilonzo also urged the government to put in place stringent measures to ensure that a repeat did not occur.

Turkana Central MP Ekwe Ethuro further urged the government to look into the food being distributed in the arid areas by various non-governmental organisations including the World Food Programme.

“We need to ensure that it’s not affected by aflatoxin because food safety and food security are assured under the Constitution so the Government needs to stop burying itself in the sand,” he quipped.

Meanwhile, Members of Parliament now want the government to reign in on unscrupulous self proclaimed medics who are conning Kenyans by claiming that they can cure a myriad diseases including cancer.

The debate also came up on Wednesday morning when the Cancer Prevention Bill was tabled in the House for its first reading.

Nairobi Metropolitan Development Minister Njeru Githae and nominated MP Millie Odhiambo argued that the quacks were bringing death to unknowing Kenyans by claiming to cure all manner of incurable illnesses.

“I think we must also castigate some of the so-called healers who are saying that they can heal cancer by selling holy oil, advertising that they cure all cancers and even some of the so called televangelists.

Some of these shenanigans must be stopped,” said Githae.

“Only recently a very young boy that I know was diagnosed with cancer and I want to agree with Githae on the issue that a lot of people are taking advantage of people suffering from cancer by offering all manner of things in the name of treatment,” said Odhiambo.

The Bill, which received unanimous support from the MPs, also saw the government’s ability to invest in the research of cancer questioned.

Roads Assistant Minister Lee Kinyanjui noted that there were only 10 doctors specializing in the treatment of cancer admitting that the government needed to pull up its socks.

“It is said that there are only 10 doctors who are qualified to treat cancer, or in other words oncologists against a population of 40 million. And therefore if you are looking for a doctor to treat your patient then the queues are impossible and sometimes the patients come from very far, which makes their suffering impossible,” he noted.

The government was also urged to set up special medical facilities in every county for the treatment of cancer.


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