Mailu appoints poisons board members after two-year court battle

Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu has finally appointed members to the Pharmacy and Poisons board ending a long wait due to a two-year court case.

Dr Mailu has appointed Jackson Kioko, the Director of Medical Services, to chair the board.

Those appointed include; Dr Kipkerich Koskei (chief pharmacist), Dr Kisa Juma Ngeiywa (Director of veterinary services), Dr Alfred Rugendo, Dr Mary Kisingu, Dr Rogers Atebe, Dr Edith Wakori and Mr Omar Jama.

“They will serve for a period of three year,” said Dr Mailu in a gazette notice dated March 8.

The delay in constituting the board was due to a court case by the Pharmaceutical Society of Kenya (PSK) which had challenged decision to reduce its representatives to the board from four to three in order to accommodate representatives of private universities.

However, the society lost the case with High Court ruling that the decision was not made in bad faith.

In his January 16 ruling, Justice George Odunga declined to declare the move as unconstitutional in a suit in which PSK had sued the National Assembly, its Speaker and the Attorney General.

“It is my view and I so hold that the issues raised herein do not meet the threshold for declaration of unconstitutionality of legislation, the court will not nullify a law because it thinks that it was enacted in bad taste or inconvenient,” Justice Odunga said.

According to PSK, when the National Assembly amended the Pharmacy and Poisons Act to reduce the number of its representatives to three, the decision was against fair administrative action since they were allegedly not consulted.

They argued that the decision relating to the legislation was critical since the matter at hand directly relates to people’s right to health and was therefore a fragile one.

They faulted the National Assembly for by passing the amendment on December 2, 2015.

PSK further argued that the legislation on the composition of the said board members was done with insufficient information hence it was an unreasonable one and therefore wanted it declared unconstitutional.

For the appointment to the board to be made, the law requires that PSK submits nine names from whom three will be selected as members. The slot for a fourth member has been left to private universities but was previously left for PSK.

The board members are appointed by a Cabinet Secretary and consists of the director of medical services who is its chair, a chief pharmacist, the director of veterinary surgeon and pharmacists from the civil service, community pharmacy as well as the pharmaceutical industry besides the four from PSK.

It also comprises of a representative from the University of Nairobi’s department of Pharmacy and a pharmaceutical technologist.

But the judge upheld argument’s by the Parliament that the legislation paved way for dealing with inequalities with respect to gender and the rights of private universities to be represented in the Board.

“It is therefore my view that the alleged discrimination directed towards PSK by reducing the number of its nominees was justifiable under the Constitution, the supreme law of the land,” Justice Odunga said.

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