Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) has appealed to the government to regulate the importation of medical products and promote locally manufactured products. KEMRI Acting Director General Prof. Elijah Maritim Songok said that eight per cent of medical products are imported, thus denying the local pharmaceutical industry a market. 'We are driving the innovation agenda; those products from pharmaceuticals are needed for sustainability. As we come up with these innovations, the reality is that eight per cent of the medical products are imported, and that is not sustainable for the country,' he said. Speaking at the Mombasa ASK show, Songok now wants the government to bar importations to cushion the country from shocks from disruptions in global supply chains and foreign exchange. 'When you have the issue of supply chain breakdown, like we saw during COVID-19, then the country will suffer, but now when we go to local production, the products are cheaper and save us from the issues of foreign exchange,' he added. Songok urges the government to support KEMRI's Research and Development in getting out the innovations, stating that 60 per cent of the funding for innovations is dependent on foreign funding. He said during the COVID-19 pandemic, KEMRI produced sanitizers that saved the country. KEMRI has also developed diagnostic kits for malaria, HIV, and hepatitis. 'We need to support our research and development; we are asking the government to help us in getting out these innovations. Sometimes we use 60 per cent of our foreign funding, which is not sustainable; we need to look at our priorities,' he added. Prof. Songok stressed the need to support innovations by buying local products to avoid disillusioning researchers, innovators, and the industry. 'We are very happy that KEMSA is now working with KEMRI, and we want to see that the supply chain supports local products. We need to be protected by the government because continued importation is going to hurt local innovations,' said Prof. Songok. He further revealed that clinical trials for sickle cell are ongoing in Kilifi, Busia, Siaya, and Kisumu counties. He said the equipping of the Eldoret doping laboratory for athletes is on course.
Source: Kenya News Agency