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Quality-assured pharmacies improving healthcare for people with low incomes in Kenya
Pharmnet®, a franchise network of licensed private pharmacies, has joined the Business Call to Action with a commitment to engage 3,000 pharmacies in its quality-assured network and train 9,000 pharmacy staff by 2017. The network will also provide business skills training to 3,000 pharmacy owners in order to help them build and run their pharmacies profitably. Through these efforts, Pharmet®, which is owned and operated by the Kenya Pharmaceutical Association (KPA), will be able to provide 27 million low-income Kenyan consumers with access to high-quality affordable medicines by 2017.
According to the Private Sector Innovation Programme for Health (PSP4H), only 4,000 of the country's 12,000 pharmacies are licensed by Kenya's Pharmacy and Poisons Board (PPB). As a result, consumers cannot be confident of the quality, authenticity or value of the medicines they purchase. In addition, PSP4H estimates that approximately 50 percent of the country's population earns between KSh 500 and KSh 1000 per day (between US$5 and US$10), which leaves them particularly vulnerable if they become ill.
The KPA is a professional group of regulated pharmaceutical technologists with a membership of 7,500 of which 3,200 are community pharmacists who either own or manage their stores. The association accounts for about two-thirds of all retail pharmacies in Kenya.
Pharmnet® is being implemented by Nairobi Techpharm Limited, a KPA company formed to provide association members with the business skills and marketing efforts appropriate for their consumer markets. It also includes a pooled procurement component supported by essential medicine manufacturers and mainstream pharmaceutical distributors, who offer products and logistics.
The criteria for enrollment in Pharmnet® are carefully aligned with the government standards. Pharmacies must also meet additional requirements, which are based on KPA's own internal practices. For example, pharmacies must be owned and run by licensed pharmaceutical technologists who receive training in the associations quality standards, franchise requirements and an audit tool to ensure compliance; peer-group clusters provide support. While membership entails a small commitment fee, once the training is complete, participating stores are provided with Pharmnet's® trademark blue and white signage indicating that they have been accredited by KPA. There are already more than 250 Pharmnet®-branded pharmacies in Nairobi, Mombasa and other counties that participated in the pilot.