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Fake malaria drugs in the market

NAIROBI, August 28 – Up to 80 percent of anti-malarial drugs in the market are counterfeits, the government announced Thursday.

The revelation was made by Medical Services Minister, Anyang’ Nyong’o who admitted that the high presence of fakes had made curative services for malaria unsafe since most patients could not tell the genuine drugs from counterfeits.

“It means that we have to make our Pharmacy and Poisons Board, as a regulatory agency, more effective. We must find ways and means of authenticating drugs that enter the country,” he emphasised.

The minister revealed that his ministry was in discussion with pharmaceutical companies on how to authenticate drugs and reduce counterfeits.

“This will not just be for malaria but other diseases as well although malaria is the most important one at the moment.”

He was speaking at a meeting with a delegation of German parliamentarians in his Afya House office, where he also announced that the government was in the process of transforming the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) into a social health insurance scheme.

This, he said, would make it possible for more people particularly the poor to access health services.

“One area in which we are extremely weak in the health system as a whole is in administration of medical service,” Nyong’o noted.

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Currently every employee in the country makes a monthly contribution of Sh320 towards NHIF which the minister said lacked equitability.

“Our proposal is to have a graduated contribution where the high income earners contribute more while the low income earners contribute less. With this, we shall raise enough funds to cover those who cannot contribute at all but who would register as members by contributing a token fee.”

At the moment if an unemployed person goes to seek health care in a government facility, they pay a ‘cost sharing fee’ of Sh20.

“Our proposal is that this Sh20 be regarded as contribution to the Social Health Insurance Fund so that these people become permanent members of the fund to benefit continuously,” said Nyong’o.

He stated that this would raise enough money to cover at least 60 percent of Kenyans by 2015.

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