The Government has promised to enforce the law requiring suppliers to source 40 per cent of their goods from the local market, a move that could see a huge growth in the pharmaceutical sector. This comes at a time the Health Ministry has set aside more than Sh43 billion for the procurement of medical facilities in the country.

County governments are also on a shopping spree for medicines and equipment for their counties.

Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich, in his budget, also allocated Sh4 billion for the free maternity initiative and Sh3 billion for leasing of healthcare equipment. This is a slight increase from Sh3.8 billion allocated in the last financial year. A significant Sh700 million was also set aside so that Kenyans can access free health care at dispensaries and health centres. Reading the Budget statement yesterday, Mr Rotich said although the law requiring local sourcing was in place, it is not being observed and was  not benefiting the local pharmaceutical sector. “We want to make sure this law is strictly observed even when funding is sourced either locally or from abroad,” Rotich said.

Kenya has the strongest pharmaceutical sector in the region with several companies having been pre-qualified by the World Health Organisation to manufacture malaria as well as HIV medicines. “This is a progressive law that could turn the pharmaceutical industry into a major employer in the county because already it its exporting significant supplies in the regional market,” said Dr Kamamia Murichu, the chairman of the Kenya Pharmaceuticals Distributors Association. The directive also opens new competition avenues between the Kenya Medical Supplies Agency (Kemsa) and independent manufacturers. A Bill to be introduced in Parliament soon, the Health Bill 2014, partially allows the 47 counties to source medical goods from various sources while treating Kemsa as the first port of call.