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Kenya to intensify crackdown on counterfeit
alcohol amid emerging national health crisis

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya will intensify crackdown on counterfeit and substandard alcoholic beverages whose rampant consumption among low income groups has created a public health crisis, officials said on Tuesday.

Wanyama Musiambo, deputy head of public service and national coordinator of a multi-agency team against illicit trade, said the government has partnered with the industry to weed out illicit brews in the market.

"Illicit alcohol is a huge threat in this country and beside the resulting economic losses, it has negatively impacted on the health of the consumers," said Musiambo.

He spoke in Nairobi during the launch of a white paper on trade in illicit alcohol beverages prepared by the ministry of internal security and public policy think tank, Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA).

The white paper indicates that an estimated 6 million Kenyans were consuming substandard alcoholic beverages, thanks to poverty, ignorance about their hazards and poor enforcement of regulations.

Wanyama said formation of a multi-agency team to crack down on manufacturers and distributors of counterfeit alcoholic beverages has borne some fruits.

"We have managed to shut down illegal outlets selling contraband alcohol, arrested traders and imposed punitive fines on them," said Musiambo.

"The next phase of the war against illicit brews will focus on enhancing surveillance at border points where unscrupulous traders sneak them from neighboring countries," he added.

He urged the private sector to support state-led public awareness campaigns on the dangers of consuming illicit brews.

Kenya is banking on robust policing and consumer education to reduce proliferation of illicit brews that commands about 30 percent of the alcohol market in the country.

Elema Halake, chief executive officer of Anti Counterfeit Agency, said that a mixture of regulatory and market-led interventions is key to reduce intake of substandard alcoholic products in Kenya.



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