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Kenya: We did not import HIV kits

04 April 2013, 17:08

Nairobi - The Director of Public Health Shahnaz Sharriff has refuted claims that Kenya imported more than 10 million uncertified testing kits for HIV and Aids from China and India.

Sharriff said procurements by the Ministry of Health were in order, having been certified by the World Health Organisation.

"We are aware that about a year ago, WHO embarked on a prequalification programme that has not yet covered all kits on its recommended lists."

"If WHO brings to our attention failure of any recommended kits, we shall adhere to it and act accordingly, he said.

Reports indicate that the Government has ordered ten million testing kits from Shanghai Kehua Engineering of China and one million kits from Premier Medical Corporation of India, in a dramatic shift from its long reliance on western countries.

Some experts have termed the decision ³rushed², saying the firms have not been pre-qualified by WHO.

The two firms have applied to WHO for prequalification but are yet to be cleared.

In a statement issued in Nairobi on Wednesday, Dr Sharriff said the current test kits used in the country are recommended by WHO and have undergone local field tests.

He added that an expert committee composed of academics, researchers, and technical development partners had reviewed results produced by the kits.

The committee made a recommendation that the HIV rapid tests be used based on superior qualities such as sensitivity and turnaround time of less than 15 minutes before the results are released to the clients, he said.

He cited the case of December 2011, when WHO issued an alert against one of the previously recommended test kits that failed, and the

Government discontinued its use and formed an expert committee to review and make recommendations on available WHO approved test kits.

The Government was then forced to recall one million testing kits made in South Korea after they proved to be unreliable.

In his statement, Sharriff made no direct reference to his February 6 circular to Provincial Directors of Health in which he instructed a change to new rapid testing kits from the two Asian countries.

The director spoke as President Mwai Kibaki renewed his call to Europe and the US to assist African manufacturers to cost-effectively produce anti-retrovirals.

The only appropriate and sustainable method of tackling killer diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis and HIV and Aids would be to create capacity for drug firms through technology transfer, President Kibaki added.
- CAJ News


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