KENYA — President William Ruto has inaugurated a state-of-the-art microbiology laboratory in Syokimau, Machakos County.

This facility, situated at the Mission for Essential Drugs and Supplies (MEDS), represents a significant stride in elevating the quality and safety standards of locally manufactured pharmaceutical products in Kenya.

The MEDS laboratory, costing over Sh100 million (US$ 654,065), stands as a private endeavor by the Christian Health Association of Kenya and the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB).

It complements the National Quality Control Laboratory, marking its distinction as the second of its kind in the country.

The concept of this laboratory has been integral to the organization’s strategic plan for the past decade, gaining formal approval in 2019.

During the event on Wednesday, November 22, President Ruto underscored the government’s commitment to supporting the local pharmaceutical industry.

He emphasized the industry’s potential to foster job creation and reduce the country’s reliance on imports. President Ruto stated, “We believe in growing our domestic manufacturing capacity all around and are taking measures to accelerate the process.”

Local production of pharmaceuticals and medical supplies currently constitutes 20 percent of the total medical expenditures in the country, equating to a domestic market of Sh110 billion (US$719.5 million).

However, imports still account for Sh76 billion (US$497.1 million), or 70 percent of the market. President Ruto highlighted the substantial opportunity to boost local production, save foreign exchange, and create employment opportunities for the youth.

The MEDS laboratory, designed for physical-chemical testing of oral dosage medicines (tablets and capsules), also focuses on microbiology testing for syrup, suspensions, and ointments.

The laboratory received commendation from President Ruto, who praised the Christian Health Association of Kenya and the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops for their invaluable contribution to the health sector.

This state-of-the-art facility will conduct various tests to ensure that medical products manufactured by MEDS and other local producers meet the required standards of quality and safety.

These tests include sterility testing by membrane filtration, growth promotion test of microbiological media, microbiological assays, bacterial endotoxin testing, microbial limit testing, and bioburden testing.

In addition to its role in maintaining quality standards, the laboratory is set to serve as a training and research facility for students and professionals in the fields of microbiology and pharmaceutical sciences.

MEDS, a leading supplier of essential medicines and medical supplies in Africa, particularly to faith-based health facilities, plays a crucial role in addressing the healthcare needs of the continent.

The organization provides services such as warehousing, distribution, procurement, supply chain management, quality assurance, pharmacovigilance, and health systems strengthening.

In the broader context of pharmaceutical quality, the laboratory is a significant stride in combating the prevalence of falsified or substandard medicines, which annually lead to approximately 100,000 deaths in Africa alone.

WHO reports indicate that between 2019 and this year, there have been 43 reported cases of falsified medicines, resulting in fatalities.

The global strategy agreed upon by WHO member states, including Kenya, underscores the importance of prevention, detection, and response to enhance access to quality medical products.

In addressing recent safety concerns, the Pharmacy and Poisons Board recalled children’s syrups for not meeting active ingredient requirements.

The regulatory body has also blacklisted new drugs in 2023, signaling a commitment to upholding drug quality for Kenyan patients.

Dr. Fred Siyoi, the CEO of the Pharmacy and Poisons Board, highlighted the importance of the laboratory in reducing consumer risks and ensuring compliance with market standards. He affirmed the regulatory body’s commitment to preventing substandard products from entering the country.

Dr. Wycliffe Nandama, MEDS Managing Director, expressed confidence that the laboratory would provide health solutions and address various issues faced by countries, including counterfeit and substandard medicines in the market.

The advanced setup of the facility is expected to deliver accurate results, ensuring the safety and efficacy of pharmaceuticals in the market.

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