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Kenya Determined To Fight Fake Drugs Menace

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Doctors have raised concerns over substandard drugs in the market that are taking the lives of people all over the globe.

A paper published in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene says that doctors arranged for combined effort to fight a pandemic of bad drugs that ends the lives of 250,000 children a year. This is after they have taken shoddy medication intended to treat malaria and pneumonia.

Tests have been carried out and have brought to light that indeed there are fake drugs in the market including those meant for diseases like malaria, cardiovascular and cancer in addition to other antibiotics. This is according to a paper that was published on Monday. It also revealed that many fakes have been found to contain everything from printer ink and paint to arsenic material.

Despite this very disturbing findings, Pharmacy Board CEO Fred Siyoi says that antibiotics in Kenya occasionally fail tests not because they are faulty but because of poor storage. “If antibiotics are not stored well, they go bad. All our antimalarials usually pass the quality test,” Dr Siyoi said.

The board’s post-marketing surveillance, which is done after every three months, has never unveiled fake cancer drugs, he said. Dr Siyoi said that 80 per cent of drugs in the Kenyan market are imported from India and China. “Whenever there is a shortage of drugs in the country, people take advantage to fill the gap, which can be harmful to the lives of Kenyans, but with the strategies we have come up with, the gaps are closed,” he said. “We have deployed various technologies such as the spectrometer (the portable device that scans medicines for active ingredients). If there is no active ingredient, we seize, quarantine or destroy the drugs and issue an alert.”

Falsified and substandard medicines lead to poisoning, untreated and resistant diseases, treatment failure and early death.

The board has developed a mobile-based innovation that identifies whether or not a drug is genuine. This has created a unique code to help identify the quality of medicines, be they imported or locally made, and track their movement across the country. The health safety code will be available for Kenyans at chemists, clinics and other health facilities.

“Patients will be able to tell if it is genuine paracetamol, its side-effects, the pharmacy that dispensed it, and whether it is registered using the unique identifier number and code,” he said.

Dr Siyoi said that the board had instituted measures to deal with an influx of fake drugs, including GPS mapping of registered pharmacies, incorporating new technologies such as online licensing and reporting, having drug inspectors at ports of entry and carrying out product registration and evaluation to check all drugs entering the market.

This is on top of regular checks on manufacturing sites, and working with the Anti-Counterfeits Agency, the Directorate of Criminal Investigations, Interpol and the World Health Organisation.

However, a study that the Kenya Medical Research Institute read at the 9th Annual Scientific and Health Conference last month noted that there is substandard amoxicillin in the market.

The study sampled 24 brands of the drug — an oral suspension antibiotic — 11 of which failed the quality test. And yet the drug is prescribed in almost all health facilities for bacterial infections.

Dr Lucia Keter, the co-principal investigator in the study, said that all the brands that failed to meet standards were imported from India, while the locally manufactured ones passed the test.

The study, done to determine the quality of amoxicillin in selected private retail pharmacies within Nairobi Country, selected many brands and only subjected 24 to analysis.

“Overall, 46 per cent were of poor quality,” Dr Keter said.

“Our findings highlight the need for regular post-market surveillance to inform on the situation of antibiotic quality in the Kenyan market,” the study suggests.

Doctors have since called for the WHO drug surveillance programme and an update to the UN’s sustainable development goals in which governments would ensure that at least 90 per cent of medicines in their countries are of high quality.

Fake drugs are a major driver of disease resistance, which fuels the rise of superbugs.

“This is an urgent public health issue and we need to take action,” the study published in the American Journal says.

Up to 10 per cent of drugs in low and middle income countries are of poor quality or outright fakes. Poor-quality drugs cost economies up to $200 billion (Sh20 trillion) a year and contribute to the increasing peril of disease resistance.

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National Bank Issues A Profit Warning Due To Higher Loan Impairment And Restructuring Costs

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The National Bank of Kenya (NBK) has issued a profit warning for the financial year ended December 2018 citing higher loan impairment charges and restructuring costs. The bank which is a listed lender of The Nairobi Securities Exchange will now be expected to post at the very least  25% lower earnings for the year ending December 2018 than the previous year. The anticipated drop means its net profit for the period is unlikely to surpass Sh308 million. “(This is) primarily due to increased loan impairment charges beyond initial projections due to a revision of valuations and values recoverable from the non performing loan portfolio,” said the firm in a cautionary statement.

“During the year the group incurred a one off restructuring cost (voluntary early retirement programme) as part of wider business alignment, the full benefit will be realized in 2019,” the statement added. NBK has in the recent past registered a series of poor performance that has pushed its survival into an uncertainty mode.

The lender is in the grip of an operational crisis, stuck in a negative liquidity position as at the end of the first nine months of the year even as plans to sell it remain in limbo. The NBK’s nine-month profit dipped by 84 per cent to Sh21.97 million as a result of reduced lending.

Loans and advances to its customers dropped by Sh9.9 billion or 17 percent to Sh48 billion compared to last year’s nine month position of Sh57.88 billion. The Treasury has approved for sale of NBK among other two State owned lenders who are, Consolidated Bank (CBKL) and the Development Bank of Kenya (DBK) along with a number of other parastatals.

The plans are, however, yet to take off even after the State sought to hire a chief manager in charge of transactions as it moved to unlock the stalled sale. The NBK’s core capital stood at Sh2.34 billion at the end of September 2018, about four times thinner than the Sh9 billion it had in September last year, leaving it significantly in breach of regulatory capital ratios and therefore constrained in its ability to lend.

Although its liquidity ratio is above the minimum requirement of 20 percent, the NBK’s total capital to total risk-weighted assets stood at a deficiency of or negative 10.4 percent as at the end of the first nine months of the year. The NBK’s core capital to total deposit liabilities stood at a negative or deficiency of 5.5 percent while core capital to total assets stands at negative 7.9 percent.

Faced with such a dicey situation, the lender has a constrained room to take in more deposits. The Treasury has injected limited amounts of capital into the lender which has not been sufficient to put the banks in the right legal position on the ratios. The NBK was compelled to continue running on constrained capital after the Treasury and National Social Security Fund (NSSF) missed own-imposed deadline of injecting Sh4.2 billion fresh capital.

The NBK said late last year that it was still awaiting the money that ought to have come in by end of September, according to the formal commitments made by the Treasury and the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) in March last year. “In March 2018, the principal shareholders gave formal commitment for a comprehensive capital solution. The board notes that this process is ongoing,” said CEO Wilfred Musau. “The capital injection will unlock and bolster the key pillars of our growth and place the bank in even a better probability path in the long-term.”

But the delay leaves the NBK in a precarious situation given that the same government has for long been mulling over merging the bank with DBK and Consolidated Bank. The NSSF owns 48.1 percent of the NBK while Treasury holds 22.5 percent stake, making them the two principal shareholders.

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Kenyan Government Saves Sh700M By Buying Police Uniforms Locally

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The Kenyan government will save a total of Sh700m by manufacturing of police uniforms locally. This is according to Interior CS Fred Matiang’i.

Matiang’i spoke on Monday when he led top government officials to inspect the production progress Police Uniform making at NYS.. “I am happy and proud to be a Kenyan and we are supporting our own. The money we use for these goods and services is not our money… isn’t it wise to support local content?” he posed.

The CS was impressed with the progress so far where 1000 pairs being produced per day and urged government departments who make their uniforms to do so locally.

Sewing the uniforms locally was part of government’s initiative to support local industries through #BuyKenyaBuildkenya initiative.

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Open Doors and Offer Mentorship to Fresh Graduates, SMEs Urged

Kimani Patrick

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Speaking during the first Business Clinic by Optiven Group at Barlays Plaza 15th floor, Mr. George Wachiuri on Friday evening urged other business owners to give opportunities for learning and mentorship for fresh graduates.

The businessman who has investments in real estate, construction and hospitality noted that most SMEs are reluctant in offering internship opportunities for fresh graduates while at the same time ask for experience before hiring them. Mr. Wachiuri, advised that if the over 800,000+ annual graduates from local universities are offered opportunities to turn their learned skills into practical experience, they’d steer small businesses into giants.

The Optiven Group Founder & Chief Executive also urged the government to assist in formalising the 5.3M informal businesses into formal business as well as give them tax exemptions for at least 5 years as they build their brands. “By exempting these business from the tax burden, these businesses will use their revenues to create more employment for our youth thereby solving the problem of unemployment,” Mr. Wachiuri observed. “Every year, about 400,000 businesses die due mainly due to poor management skills, lack of operational resources/capital as well as taxation.” He added.

Mr. Wachiuri reported that his organisation is leading by example and through their graduate trainee program, 50 graduates get trained each year. This is in line with the company’s mission to provide 30,000 direct jobs by the year 2030.

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