Faith's Story: Ensuring Medicine Safety in Kenya (#Access2meds, Part 3)

Faith's Story: Ensuring Medicine Safety in Kenya (#Access2meds, Part 3)

Saving lives and improving health continues long after diagnosing disease or delivering medicines.

(Watch Faith tell her story)

Faith had been ill for months. She was 31 and had two daughters. She didn’t know what was wrong. A friend urged her to get an HIV test; it came back positive.

Faith started on antiretroviral treatment.

But, in 2013, one of her antiretroviral medicines started to work against her, causing misshapen fat deposits to develop on her body.

When she finally mustered the courage to speak up one year later, her doctor knew just what to do and shifted her to a different medicine.

(Medicine Movers: Kenya from Management Sciences for Health on Vimeo)

Faith didn’t know it, but her report to the doctor became part of a nationwide database that tracks adverse drug reactions, and poor quality or expired medicines.

Kenya Leads Innovation for digitizing medicine safety

Developed by MSH in 2009, with US Agency for International Development (USAID) support, the tracking system is the product of a long-established partnership between MSH and the Kenyan government. It is embedded in the public health system, allowing the government to track patterns and problems, develop better detection and response efforts more readily, and ultimately nip problems like Faith’s in the bud.

The system became digital in 2013 and will ultimately make paper-based records a thing of the past. The digital application can be downloaded on computers and smartphones, and reports of medicine problems can be logged on the website of Kenya’s Pharmacy and Poisons Board, the national agency overseeing medicine regulation, quality assurance, and patient safety.

With this pharmacovigilance system, Kenya became the first country in Africa—and in the world—to use a digital medicine quality and safety reporting tool available online and via mobile technology.

Adverse drug reactions like Faith’s are but one stubborn problem with medicine safety in Kenya.

Learn more on Medicine Movers

This post is adapted and excerpted from Medicine Movers, written by Daphne Northop/MSH. Video by Emily Judem/MSH. 


  • Access to Medicines () is a three-week online conversation, hosted by Devex in partnership with Management Sciences for Health, to explore work being done to guarantee access to lifesaving medicines. We're examining how to ensure medicine access for individuals at the last mile, in a way that saves lives, empowers communities, and builds resilient health systems. Join us!

  • Medicine Movers tells the stories of patients in three countries who continue to benefit from pharmaceutical systems, launched during the peak of the AIDS epidemic. Visit Medicines Movers to see stories and videos from Ethiopia, Kenya, and South Africa, in conjunction with the Devex and MSH series.

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