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Posted by African Press International on August 10, 2008

By Gakuu Mathenge

Medical Services Minister Prof Anyang Nyongos appointment of former Director of Medical Services Ouma Muga and Dr Kipkerich Koskei is against his dictum “need for reform and crafting of a clean break from the rotten past.

During their leadership of Kenya Pharmacy and Poisons Board, regulations, and professional ethics were hardly observed. Licensing woes, importation and distribution of substandard drugs into local market, registration of quacks and mercenaries as medical drugs dispensers and distributors are some of the challenges the board faced. Koskei was chief pharmacist, and secretary to the Pharmacy and Poisons Board (PPB) while as Director of Medical Services, Muga was chairman in 1990s.

The minister has reinstated Koskei as chief pharmacist after being kicked out by his predecessor Mrs Charity Ngilu in 2002 and appointed Muga chairman of taskforce to investigate Kenya Medical Service Agency (Kemsa).

In 1998, former Health Minister Joshua Angatia condemned Afya House as Mafia House, expressing his frustration with cartels of merchants, importers and senior civil service fat cats that disregarded rules and morals in their money minting schemes.

When Ngilu took over the docket , among the first people she sent packing was Koskei, under whose watch millions of taxpayers money was used to buy nonessential medical items.

Among the first major official functions that Ngilu performed was to expose and order destruction of mult million expired items in stores throughout the country.

The “travesty of justice”, is never far from Nyongos lips, especially during his activist days. Travesty means a debased or distorted version of something.

This is the Nyongo who spent 1990s in trenches with other forces fighting for restoration of social justice, democracy and morality in public office. He was among the finest foot soldiers, both in and out of Parliament, fighting against the Kanu regime that debased public service.

When a section of Kanu leaders joined grand opposition outfit of President Kibaki (then Opposition leader), Michael Kijana Wamalwa (Ford-Kenya leader) and Ngilu (then leader of NAK), in 2002, there were reservations that they would poison a Government the then opposition envisaged.

We were told not to despair since the dyed in the reformists Nyongos, Karuas, Muites, Kiraitus and Kituyis would counter any bad influence from the Kanu boys. We believed it was the dawn of new era. The appointment of Muga, to investigate Kemsa, is essentially telling him to investigate the mess he and Koskei created, then pass judgement on individuals trying to clean it up.

Ngilu interfered with professionalisation of drug procurement, resulting in the withdrawal of USAID procurement and drug distribution systems support to Kemsa, which had been started by Institute of Supplies and Management chairman, Chris Oanda.

For more than 15 years, the Pharmaceutical Society of Kenya and Kenya Pharmaceutical Distributors Association have raised eyebrows regarding Koskeis leadership in pharmaceutical sector.

Dr Fred Sioi manned the chief pharmacists office in acting capacity for five years without confirmation. This is against the civil service regulation. This confirms the fierce competition of vested interests in the multi-billion public health and drug sector. Even in absence of hard evidence of impropriety, the appointments borders on a travesty of justice.

The ODM fraternity must protect the party from being used as a by-pass to launder tainted careers.

The writer is a senior political writer at The Standard:



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