News article

New initiative to improve access to quality essential medicines in Kenya

New initiative developed to improve access to quality essential medicines among low-income groups in Kenya

A network of branded retail pharmacies, Pharmnet has been developed with the aim of improving access to quality essential medicines among low-income groups in Kenya. With support from UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) through the Private Sector Innovation Programme for Health (PSP4H), this initiative will ensure that the outlets stock quality medicines and is dispensed by qualified pharmaceutical personnel which will greatly improve health outcomes for low income Kenyans.

The project will bring together private providers who own pharmacies into a network that delivers medicines under a common brand, with a promise of quality assurance to consumers. Currently there are 100 Pharmnet-branded pharmacies in operation in the pilot areas of Nairobi and Mombasa, and through Cardno Emerging Markets working with the Kenya Pharmaceutical Association, will increase to 250 as the initiative moves into other counties.

Speaking at the launch in Nairobi, the British High Commissioner Dr Christian Turner said:

The UK Government values the role of the private sector and it is critical to help sustain the gains made in health and in development generally. This new approach will ensure reliable access to quality medicines from pre-qualified suppliers, and I believe will greatly improve health provision for Kenyans living on low incomes.

Ron Ashkin, PSP4H Team Leader said:

Pharmnet is a win-win: good for business while bringing quality, affordable medicines to Kenyans of all income levels. Meanwhile, Pharmnet leverages the public sector’s drive to eliminate substandard medicines. It is a prime example of DFID’s private sector-led policy in action.

Access to affordable, safe and quality assured essential medicines especially Kenya is a major challenge due to factors such as the number of counterfeit and substandard drugs in the market, the proliferation of unlicensed outlets operated by unqualified personnel, and the inadequate regulation in the sector.

DFID through PSPH4 is exploring a market based approach to development assistance in health which will address the health needs of the Kenyan poor. As one of its key interventions, Pharmnet meets the key criteria of PSP4H’s market systems approach to development.

PSP4H is a three year action research programme funded by UK aid at (£4.4m) and implemented by Cardno Emerging Markets with the aim of collecting evidence which will help inform future investments in improving health outcomes for poor people.