Corruption alarm bells ring loudly as Health Ministry announces plan to import Covid vaccine using private companies.

The Covid-19 vaccine advisory taskforce Chairman Willis Akhwale has announced something that is set to get majority of Kenyans worried that yet another mega scandal is currently in the making. Private companies will be allowed to ship in vaccines, and charge Kenyans for the dosages.

Doctor Akhwale was speaking in a virtual meeting hosted by the Kenya Medical Advisory (KMA), when he disclosed that the Ministry of Health will allow some private pharmaceutical companies to bring in coronavirus vaccines from abroad in order to compliment government supplies.

According to the ministry, discussions are underway with the Pharmacy and Poisons Board (PPB) to issue the companies a conditional market authorisation in a bid to bridge access gap and increase the number of doses in the country.

Dr. Akhwale also said that final touches have been put in place to ship the first four million Covid-19 doses before the end of the month. The doses will be stored at the Ministry’s central vaccine depot in Kitengela, which can store up to 20 million vials of vaccines. From there, the shots will be distributed to the eight regional storage centres across the country.
Upon arrival of the vaccines, the head of the taskforce said the vaccination exercise will take off in two weeks.

This is happening against the backdrop of a scandal at KEMSA which saw billions of shillings looted through flawed tendering processes. Shady connected companies won contracts to supply the government agency with medical equipment at unreasonably inflated prices.

There’s more cause for worry, as Dr. Akhwale revealed that they were in the process of signing contracts which would insulate these private companies from legal action in case the vaccines they import have dangerous side effects.

Dr Akhwale explained that the government needed to sign indemnification or “no fault” agreements, which absolve companies from liability in case of unexpected adverse effects arising from the emergency use of vaccines.
“We are in communication with Treasury, the Attorney General, and manufacturers before our orders are shipped,”

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    Written by Joshua Wanga

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