NAIROBI, Kenya Apr 4 – The Kenya Medical Association (KMA) has lauded the move by the government to ban the importation, distribution and administration of COVID-19 vaccines by private enterprises.
Kenya’s COVID-19 National Emergency Response Committee (NERC) chaired by Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe on Friday sanctioned the ban that followed the publicity received by Russia’s Sputnik V which was rolled out in the country, mainly targeting the rich.
KMA President Were Onyino on Sunday said it is imperative to have transparency in the vaccination exercise.
“We support the initiative announced by the Ministry of Health where the government will be the only entity to engage and import the vaccines directly from the manufacturers,” he said.
Onyino however, stated that in the event a Public Private Partnership (PPP) will be required to fast-track the vaccination of Kenyans, the vaccines to be imported should meet the global safety standards and approval by the World Health Organization (WHO)
“The vaccination process should be highly ethical and transparent. All forms of fraud and cheating by both providers and consumers should be discouraged, monitored and heavily punished irrespective of the status of the culprit. We do believe that if this is done, it will ensure that there is an equitable roll out of the vaccines in Kenya in a manner that is transparent and accountable,” he said.
Kenya currently has both variants from South Africa and the UK which are said to be more contagious.
The Pharmacy and Poisons Board had confirmed approving the Sputnik V vaccine, but for emergency use only, saying marketing approval had not been issued.
The Kenyan government is administering the AstraZeneca vaccines acquired through the global COVAX facility.
More than 200,000 people, including President Uhuru Kenyatta have taken the jab that initially targeted frontline workers before it was opened up for other categories and people aged over 58.
But even as Kenyatta rallied Kenyans to take the vaccine his Deputy William Ruto and other influential people opted for the Sputnik V.
Lawyers Ahmendassir Abdullahi and Donald Kipkorir were the first to get the Russian jab.
Reports indicate that the Russian vaccine has not been approved by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Globally, questions have been raised on the efficacy of the AstraZenneca vaccine after several cases of blood clots and deaths were reported in European countries, most of which have suspended its use.
South Africa announced last month it had stopped the use of the AstraZenneca vaccine because it was not effective on the variant detected in the country.