Medics plead to have ARVs at port released

Controversy over ARVs stuck at the port of Mombasa continues to rage, with the Pharmaceutical Society of Kenya (PSK) stating that reverting the Sh1.1 billion consignments to other countries will hurt more than 1.5 million people living with HIV.

Daniella Munene, the PSK Chief Executive Officer, further called on USAid to regularise their processes and align them with the Kenyan government’s requirements.

Dr Munene said it was worrying that even with a waiver of Sh45.8 million tax, the consignment was yet to be dispatched to patients because of the unresolved dispute.

“The country is in need of these drugs. It will be a waste to have the medicine diverted from Kenya,” she said.

According to the Kenya Revenue Authority taxation document The Standard is privy to, the ministry paid a total Sh45.8 million tax for the consignment.

The taxation included Railway Development Levy and Import Declaration Fees for 13 consignments. Dr Munene’s plea came after the US Embassy said it was considering taking the ARVs to another country.

With the drugs stuck at the port, it is feared efficacy could be affected, beside the accumulation of storage charges.

A source at the ministry disclosed that the US-based aid agency wanted to have oversight in distribution of the ARVs, and that it had contracted Chemonics International for the job.

The consignment was shipped to the country in January, but four months down the line there is still push and pull between Kenyan and the donor.

In a report by the Ministry of Health to the Senate dated April 16, CS Mutahi Kagwe requested for a meeting with the US representative and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and it was established that the consignment was imported without the ministry’s knowledge, and outside agreed framework.

In another document, the National Treasury and Planning CS Ukur Yatani said the ARVs were shipped to Kenya without a formal engagement framework.

HIV health items are mainly funded by the Government of Kenya, the Global Fund and USAid.

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