Kenya: Sh92 Million Runs to Waste as Vaccine Expires

21 January 2020

Tax payers have lost Sh92 million after a new foot-and-mouth disease vaccine that had been manufactured by the veterinary agency expired following a tug-of-war between senior government officials and the corporation over a benchmarking trip.

The Kenya Veterinary Vaccines Production Institute (Kevevapi) had manufactured the oil-based vaccine in 2017 to replace the water-based one that has been in use for many years.

However, its launch was rejected by Ministry of Agriculture officials, who wanted to be taken for a benchmarking trip in Brazil, where it's in use. "We were unable to launch the vaccine because some senior officials in the ministry deliberately frustrated the efforts," said a senior official at the institution.

The vaccine expired early last year even as the country grappled with an acute shortage of the product, which saw thousands of animals succumb to foot-and-mouth disease.

Livestock PS Harry Kimutai confirmed that the vaccines have expired. However, he could not give more details on the politics surrounding the saga.

"It is clear from the records that the oil-based vaccine has expired. However, I am not privy to what happened as by that time I had not been appointed to the ministry," said Mr Kimutai.

He observed that the veterinary agency "is the only one tasked" with the production and marketing of the vaccine.

The move has also seen Kenya lose foreign exchange as Kevevapi is the only institution in East Africa that produces the vaccine, selling to Uganda, Tanzania, Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda and Ethiopia.

Veterinarians have said the delay in releasing the vaccine has also subjected farmers to losses as they are incurring high costs to protect their animals from the disease.

"Ordinarily, the oil-based vaccine is used only once a year as opposed to the conventional one that requires livestock to be vaccinated twice a year, making it an expensive affair," a vet told the Nation.

It costs a farmer Sh200 to treat their animals if the exercise is being conducted by the government, while private vets charge Sh500.

Last year, the country had a shortage of the vaccine for close to six months.

More than five counties, including Nandi, Kisii and Trans-Nzoia, had to place their animals in quarantine for a long time following the outbreak of the disease.

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