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How herbal clinics have been using experimental drugs on Kenyans

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As officials from the Pharmacy and Poisons Board enter Dr Murugu Herbal Clinic, they find Henry* (not his real name) being attended to by the receptionist. Henry’s wife has been suffering from a stomach problem for a long time.

Having seen adverts about the services Murugu Herbal Clinic offers, he decided to travel all the way from Kisii to come and seek alternative means of treatment for his wife.

The clinic is conveniently located in Nairobi’s CBD, on the 7th floor of Contrast House along Moi Avenue. The doctor himself, Peter Murugu, is not in, but the operations are going on, thanks to a team of his five staff, including the receptionist.

The team does not comprise any qualified medic. But when they are questioned, they say their work is just to book patients and not to attend to them.

Henry is unlucky after the officials put a halt to operations at the facility. The routine raid is meant to find out the kind of herbal medicine sold to the public, their quality and safety standards.

The officials, accompanied by police officers, are led by pharmaceutical inspector Dr Agoro Paddy and Valentine Mokaya. They are greeted with a pile of leaflets on the receptionist’s table, indicating the diseases they cure and the time frame it takes before someone gets completely healed.

They include chronic diseases, such as cancer, gynaecological complications and detoxification agents. Some promise healing in as little as two weeks.

The receptionist admits they don’t look into the history of the patients who come seeking treatment. They don’t have medical records. In one of the rooms are rolls of stickers normally used to label the bottles after packaging with unknown concoctions.

The employees refuse to open the stores in which the medicines are kept, claiming they don’t have the key. But after threats from the police officers accompanying the officials, they open them. The store shelves are full of herbal medicines, packaged in transparent bottles.

Some medicines should not be stored in transparent bottles. All the jerrycans with medicines do not even have labels.

Desperate Kenyans are the most vulnerable. Patients can’t even tell what these substances are. It is only him who understands them.

The shelves are fully packed with the already packaged products, labels indicating only the expiry date. No indication of the manufacture date, batch number, storage conditions or the physical address of the doctor is present on the bottles, as per regulations.

It is also required that each medicine should be accompanied with a leaflet with instructions on how to use and the possible side-effects.

“Wait till that day you will get sick and come here and we treat you. That is when you will know these drugs work,” an employee told the team.

The medicines mixing area is full of empty bottles awaiting refill by what only Dr Murugu himself knows.

“Wait till that day you will get sick and come here and we treat you. That is when you will know these drugs work.” Dr Murugu Herbal Clinic employee

KAMIRITHU HERBS CLINIC

Another team raids the Kamirithu Herbs Clinic’s branches in Ngara and Ruiru. They are met with the same irregularities found at Murugu’s clinic. Medicines lack dates indicating when the drugs were manufactured, the expiry dates and the ingredients used to prepare them.

The only available staff member, when requested for her qualifications, says she is just a salesperson and not a licensed chemist.

It emerges the drugs used in the clinic are manufactured at a site in Ruiru, which is supervised by the owner, who doubles up as the chief pharmacist Andrew Njuguna.

On being interviewed by the team at his Kahawa Wendani residence, Njuguna says he studied pharmacy at the Royal College in Ruiru. He says he registered some of his drugs at the University of Nairobi but the government is yet to test the products and release the results.

“We paid the registration fee of Sh50,000 and filled all the required forms but have not received a report from the university on the content and effectiveness of the drug,” Njuguna says.

He says the government’s unwillingness to test and certify or condemn the products convinced him he is free to continue with his activities.

“The last time I went to their offices they dismissed me without giving me audience. I had no option but to go back to what I have been doing for the last 30 years,” he said.

Njuguna claimed one of the powder samples can treat allergies, malaria and diabetes. “I have used it to treat patients who have recovered,” he said.

He said another drug he sells can cure dysmenorrhea, among other gynaecological conditions. The drug is touted as a cure for all gynaecological illnesses.

The herbalist showed the team the equipment he uses to prepare drugs, including a modified posho mill.

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The third raid is done at East and West Medical Centre, run by a Chinese. The clinic is not only operating illegally but also selling medicines unfit for human consumption.

Inside the clinic are several products labelled in Chinese, some unlabelled, making it difficult to tell what they are. The owner claims to be importing the drugs but no import documents are found during the raid.

All the products are confiscated and owners expected to be charged.

WHY THE PROBLEM PERSISTS

So far, 76 premises have been inspected and 29 people arrested and charged. Those already arraigned were charged with manufacturing of medicinal substances for sale without licence, supplying poisons when a container is not labelled in the prescribed manner and sale of unregistered drugs.

Thirty clinics have been closed in Nairobi in a week. They include the famous  Olive and Makini herbal clinics. At Olive herbal clinic, a large quantity of unknown powder in buckets was seized and the owner arrested and taken to court. The accused was released on Sh100,000 bail.

At Ratilal Makanji Gudka Co Ltd, a large consignment of un-registered herbal products was seized and one person arrested and taken to court and released on Sh80,000 bail.

The raids have left many questions as to what Kenyans might actually be consuming as alternative medicine.

From products that lack ingredients to the packaging that has been done in substandard bottles, Kenyans are believed to be consuming poisonous substances that have not been tested and verified by the government.

Officials from PPB said desperate Kenyans are the most vulnerable to these herbalists, who lie to people they can cure diseases within weeks. There is also lack of information on referral procedures patients ought to follow in case they don’t feel better.

Taking the case of Henry as an example, what he needed was just going back to the hospital and explaining if at all the drugs his wife was using were not working. I am pretty sure the hospital would have exploited other available options.

The board now wants courts to impose hefty fines on those found guilty of operating illegal herbal outlets to discourage the trade. Crackdown coordinator Julius Kaluai says the fines currently imposed on offenders are not deterrent enough.

This is not the first time Murugu’s clinic is being raided. Another raid was done in 2015 and the clinic closed, but it was reopened under unclear circumstances.

REGULATION ATTEMPT

The raids are expected to continue to protect the safety of consumers. Kenya is working on guidelines to regulate operations of herbalists, who are partly blamed for increasing the sale of counterfeit medicine by passing them off as herbal to patients.

The regulations will require that herbalists register their medicines and that those medicines have to go for laboratory analysis. Sale of herbal medicine in Kenya is not regulated. Herbalists do not require any special education skills to be licensed by the Department of Culture Services.

Some dealers can be seen openly displaying their wares in the streets, with some hawking them in public service vehicles. Sexual enhancement drugs and those used to improve the body’s immunity are most targeted.

PPB good distribution practices officer Dominic Kariuki urged Kenyans to seek treatment from established mainstream healthcare facilities. These stock registered products whose quality, efficacy and safety are guaranteed, he said.

During this crackdown, PPB used official closure notices (banners), which are displayed on the doors of the clinics that inspectors have closed down. The closure notices have unique serial numbers that are tagged to a given clinic.

Copies of closure forms are given to the local police command to ensure the said premises remain closed. The closure notices also act as a warning to members of the public to keep off.

“Members of the public are advised to use health safety codes displayed in registered pharmacy outlets to verify legality of the premises. Send SMS to 21031 and it is free of charge,” Kariuki said.

The seized herbal products have since been taken for analysis to check for adulteration with conventional medicines and contamination.

 MAGDALINE SAYA/The Star

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Respeck! Khaligraph Jones boasts of newly acquired German beast [Video]

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As Kenyans continue to feel the heat of the harsh economy, courtesy of the lethal COVID-19, rapper, Khaligraph Jones is busy splashing millions into luxurious cars.

Let’s be honest, if no one has been spared by the lockdowns globally, it must be the entertainment industry.

Music artists get to pocket thousands through concerts and gigs which simply translate into a mass gathering of people.

However, the current situation has seen artistes instead count losses with music tours put off and others even cancelled, worldwide.

Well, despite the storm that has struck the globe regardless of status, gender or age, Khaligraph Jones seems to be living in a world of his own.

Award-winning Kenyan rapper, Khaligraph Jones

As individuals, rush to supermarkets and the grocery stores to purchase basics like toilet paper, food, medicine..name it! Khaligraph savored the moment to welcome home his new ride – a big, black, German machine.

Taking to his social media accounts, the influential Kenyan rapper proudly flaunted his new black beast, shouting:

Onyesha gari buda! watu waone buda!

Khaligraph flaunts new ride

Slowly cruising the sleek ride, Jones wanted Kenyans to have a glimpse of what having good money feels like.

A four-wheel drive fuel guzzler, German technology – a 2014 Porsche Cayenne edition, , the OG could just not get over the feel.

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Khaligraph flaunts new German beast

Boasting:

We got That Fire got the Heat. #respecttheogs

Mixed reactions

Intimidated Kenyan personalities, celebrities and fans online could not just contain their emotions, blasting:

brobox_ 😅😅🤣hii tuktuk iko tu sawa

Watch

Keen to note is that this is not the first move the OG has pulled. Just to list a few of his other expensive rides inclusive of: Mercedes Benz, Range Rover among others.


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Meghan Markle and Prince Harry ‘flee coronavirus in Canada for new home’

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Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex (Image: Getty Images)

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have fled Canada and moved to California amid the coronavirus pandemic, it has been reported.

ALSO READ: Meghan Markle and Harry share sweet goodbye message to fans in final Instagram post

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex reportedly left for the US before borders closed due to the outbreak of the deadly bug.

It comes as Harry’s father, Prince Charles, 71, tested positive for Covid-19 from which he has reportedly recovered.

Meanwhile, Harry and Meghan are said to have set up home close to Hollywood with 10-month-old son Archie and are living in lockdown.

Prince Harry Meghan’s home in Canada (Image: AFP via Getty Images)

A royal insider told The Sun: “Harry and Meghan have left Canada now for good.

“The borders were closing and flights were stopping. They had to get out.

“But this move was planned for some time. They realised Canada would not work out for various reasons and they want to be based in the Los Angeles area.

“They have a big support network there. It’s where their new team of Hollywood agents and PRs and business managers are based. Meghan has lots of friends there and, of course, her mum, Doria.”

ALSO READ: Meghan Markle could get new surname when she quits Royal Family next week

The Sussexes are claimed to have left the Sh1.485 billion (£11.4million) mansion they were borrowing in Vancouver and took a private plane out of the city shortly before US President Donald Trump and Canadian PM Justin Trudeau closed the border between their countries.

The couple landed in the LA area, which includes Bel Air — the posh neighbourhood of 1990s Will Smith sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, it is said.

Former actress Meghan grew up in Los Angeles where her mother Doria Ragland still lives.

Duke and Duchess of Sussex holding their son Archie (Image: PA)

According to America’s People magazine Harry, 35, and Meghan, 38, have been “living in a secluded compound and haven’t ventured out amid the coronavirus pandemic”.

A source said: “After living on Vancouver Island since last November the couple have left Canada now to start a new life in California.

“Meghan knows the area very well and puts her close to her team of PR’s, business advisers and Hollywood agents.

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“More importantly, it put Harry, her and Archie closer to Doria.”

ALSO READ: Meghan Markle celebrates first UK Mother’s Day with Archie and shares sweet message

The move is said to have left members of the royal family in shock.

When the Duke and Duchess made their announcement they were stepping away from royal life, they said they would split their time between North America and the UK.

For More of This Stories Subscribe to the Standard Epaper to get a copy of Eve Woman in the Standard

A source added: “This move has been coming for a while and it’s felt they will predominantly be based in the States now where they have more freedom to work on their private deals.”

Meghan Markle with her mother Doria Ragland (Image: POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

The news comes hours after it emerged Meghan has bagged her first non-royal job.

The Duchess of Sussex has narrated Disney+’s new film Elephant, which will hit our screens on April 3.

The film follows an elephant family’s “extraordinary 1,000 mile journey across Africa on an adventure that will change their lives.”

The exciting new role is Meghan’s first performance since she gave up her acting career to marry Harry.

A trailer has been released, but it doesn’t include any of Meghan’s narration.

The Disneynature channel made the announcement on Twitter, writing: “Disneynature’s Elephant, an Original Movie narrated by Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex, starts streaming April 3, only on #DisneyPlus.”

This week is Meghan and Harry’s last as members of the Royal Family, with Megxit in the diary for March 31.

From April 1, the couple officially start their new lives out of the royal spotlight.

?

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Covid-19 cases in Kenya shoot to 81 after 22 tested positive

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Covid-19 cases in Kenya shoot to 81 after 22 tested positive

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