Ministry faulted for listing alcohol as essential product

Tuesday, April 21st, 2020 00:00 |
Kenya Tobacco Control Alliance chairman Joel Gitali. Photo/PD/FILE

George Kebaso @Morarak

The Ministry of Health has been challenged to explain why it has not opposed  the recent listing of alcohol and tobacco as essential products, yet it should be in the forefront in raising awareness against the harmful effects of the two commodities.

At the same time, a group of civil society organisations advocating for the removal the two products from the essential list, is  concerned that the Ministry of Industrialisation has not responded to the call more than two weeks since it received a letter from 11 entities.

Urgent response

Some of the representatives of the 11 organisations yesterday revisited the concerns calling on the two ministries to give an urgent response to the matter since it borders on health of millions of Kenyans.

Kenya Tobacco Control Alliance (KETCA) chairman Joel Gitali  yesterday said it should be of great concern to the public why the Ministry of Health did not correct the mess when it’s mandated with the task of safeguarding Kenyans’ health.

“We want MoH, as a matter of urgency, to explain why it seems comfortable and whether it agrees with its Industrialisation counterpart on the listing of the two products as essential,” he told People Daily yesterday through telephone.

On April 8, 2020, the Ministry  of  Industrialisation,  Trade  and  Enterprise Development listed alcoholic beverages and tobacco among essential products during the coronavirus pandemic.

This did not go down well with organisations that have been fighting proliferation of tobacco use and alcohol abuse.

“We believe that this move will not only make the Ministry of Health and the government’s efforts counterproductive in the fight against Covid-19 but also subject Kenyans to unnecessary yet preventable deaths,” the groups said in a statement. 

However, while revisiting the issue yesterday, International Institute of Legislative Affairs (IILA) added its voice to the growing concern that the government is playing double standards in addressing the general health of Kenyans.

IILA chief executive Emma Wanyonyi said the MoH should take the lead, or provide direction on the matter- at the very least.

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