Kenya: Health before profits

© MSF Public pressure was instrumental in passing Kenya's new IP Bill and providing hope for Kenyan AIDS patients. An estimated 2.3 million adult Kenyans are living with HIV/AIDS, but so far, less than 2,000 of them have received treatment. Kenya can change this by issuing compulsory licences and producing or importing affordable generic medicines - not only AIDS drugs, but other essential medicines as well.
Kenya's parliament passed an important law in June 2001: the country's new Intellectual Property Bill allows for the importation and production of more affordable medicines for HIV/AIDS and other diseases. This was a major victory for the coalition of Kenyan activists and organisations, including MSF, who have been working together to improve access to medicines and encouraged policy-makers inside Kenya and internationally to adopt a pro-health Industrial Property Bill. The new Bill includes safeguards such as parallel imports and compulsory licensing, with explicit mention of high prices as grounds for issuing compulsory licences. The challenge for the Kenyan government is now to work to expand treatment access by implementing the provisions in the new bill.