Veterinary doctors in the Country have pleaded with the National Assembly not to pass the Kenya Food and Drugs Authority Bill 2019 saying it’s unconstitutional.
Led by the Directorate of Veterinary Services, the Kenya Veterinary Association (KVA), and the Kenya Union of Veterinary Practitioners, the vets said they were not consulted before the drafting of the bill.
They said the Bill, which seeks to put the regulation of both human and veterinary medicines under the proposed Kenya Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), would be disastrous to the Country as the regulation of animal drugs would be in the hands of non-professionals.
Addressing a press conference at the end of a two-day conference of veterinary practitioners from both the public and private sectors, the vets said only them have the capacity to regulate the manufacture and sale of veterinary drugs and medicines.
They said the laws governing the regulation of human and animal drugs were already adequate, adding that the two kinds of drugs should not be regulated by a single body as is being proposed in the Bill sponsored by Endembes Member of Parliament Robert Pokuse.
The chairman of the Kenya Veterinary Association, Dr. Nicholas Muyale, said the bill did not go through stakeholder participation, adding the sponsor and drafters of the bill did not conduct a regulatory impact assessment of the bill before it was presented to the National Assembly.
“Food safety is the preserve of veterinary surgeons and public health officers. Therefore, it is a big joke for pharmacists to pretend to be the ones who can be experts in food safety,” he said.
He said Kenya, being a signatory to the Organization of Animal Health, has rules that require veterinary medicines to be under the custody of the Directorate of Veterinary Services.
“It is a fallacy for the bill to propose that the Director General of FDA will be in charge of medicines. I don’t know how many countries are using FDA. Tanzania tried and failed,” he said.
Prof. James M Mbaria, the Chairman of the Department of Public Health, Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University of Nairobi said veterinary medicines should be regulated by competent authorities to ensure food safety in the country.
“That means we should prepare them ourselves, we monitor the residues and then we are sure the food is safe because those residues are associated with so may other effects like anti-microbial resistance,” he said adding, “We are the only authority that can ensure the food is safe,” He said.
The National Chairman of the Union of Veterinary Practitioners, Dr. Benson Kibore, said Kenya has adequate mechanisms to control and regulate veterinary drugs, noting that the mechanisms enabled the veterinary industry to thrive even in the phase of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Veterinary medicines are products that should be produced, managed and monitored by professionals, as opposed to the proposals in the bill that seek to have people not conversant with veterinary medicines to regulate the industry,” he said.
He said the Veterinary Medicines Directorate had already succeeded to controlling and regulating veterinary medicines since its inception about five years ago, and there was no need for another body to regulate all drugs, human and animal.
“Before the veterinary medicines directorate was formed, Kenya had a rise in animal diseases and a decrease in exports, but since the directorate was formed, we have witnessed the reverse,” he said.
Their sentiments were echoed by Dr. Charles Ochodo from the Directorate of Veterinary Services, who appealed to Members of Parliament to think about Kenyans and reject the Bill saying it would lead to Kenyans consuming unwholesome food due to poor regulations of veterinary medicines.
Dr. Ochodo said more than 75 percent of all antibiotics imported in the country are used in the veterinary industry, hence the need for veterinary practitioners to be in charge of the medicines’ regulation.
“We have at least 18 million head of cattle, 14 million of which are beef and four million are dairy. We have 18 million sheep and at least 27 million goats and 46 million poultry most of which are chicken. We also have some 3 millioin camels, at least hald a million pigs and 1.9 million donkeys, all these are food animals.