This government owes Kenyans the moral obligation to unstitch this cough syrup riddle.
It’s a week now since reports emerged that “the country’s top hospitals were withdrawing cough syrups from their pharmacies because scientists say they were ineffective and possibly harmful.”
Despite this grave turn of events, the Minister concerned, the Honourable Peter Anyang Nyong’o remains tight-lipped. Someone must take political responsibility for this debacle. Simply shifting blame to the Pharmacy and Poisons Board won’t just wash.
It should not take more than a week for the government to take ample steps to protect its citizens from exploitation. If news reports are anything to go by, dispensing the medicines was prohibited in public hospitals two years ago. It appears State bureaucracy misted up transmission of this information to the Kenyan public. Here then is an opportunity to correct that boo-boo.
The lives of millions of Kenyan children remain at risk, yet the government has not seen it fit to unfalteringly deal with this issue.
I would have expected the person under whose docket this falls to call a news conference; take the trouble to display the cough syrups in question and counsel Kenyan parents NOT to administer the medicines to their children.
The government should have gone the extra mile – like happened with the Media Bill – and distribute leaflets at bus stops telling the Kenyan public what they need to know about the cough syrups.
I would recommend to the Ministry of Medical Services to cut back on its expenses for office flowers and 10 o’clock and 4pm tea and use the produce to place advertisements in the local press stating which medicines are not safe – and those that are (complete with full-colour photos).
We need to be told which medicines have been removed from open sale so that we know the choice to make when we privately visit a chemist.
I expect to be told what risks I will be exposing my children to if I chose to administer those syrups. Then, and only then, can this government absolve itself from any blame.
I want Professor Anyang’ Nyong’o to exhibit the same eloquence on this matter as he does when carping about the denial of connubial rights to the Orange Democratic Movement by the Party of National Unity.
We are talking about children’s rights here. If you fail to act this week, I suggest that your appointing authority should divorce you from the Medical Services Ministry forthwith and find a more suitable replacement.
Postscript: Coughs and colds are largely self-limiting conditions that get better within days. Research by US doctors shows that plain honey is better than many expensive medicines.