Fred Aminga @faminga
The Kenyan consumer stands to be fleeced while procuring services and validating product quality due to inconsistency of local standards.
This is because the consumer may have to part with an extra coin to ensure conformity to local regulatory requirements and benchmarking against best global practices.
For example, it is not surprising for patients to be charged multiple times for medical tests, in the name of validating results as doctors ask patients to visit more than one laboratory.
This is informed by the desire to have confidence that the tests being carried out are accurate to ensure the correct diagnosis is given.
Kenya National Accreditation Services (Kenas) chief executive Martin Chesirem told Business Hub that if similar standards were maintained in all medical facilities there would be no need for doctors to demand tests from multiple sources, whose costs are eventually passed on to patients.
“If standards accreditation was done, patients would not have to look for the few renowned hospitals for treatment because services would be the same,” he says.
Similar challenges cut across other sectors including agriculture and manufacturing where difficulty in meeting regulatory standards among all industry players culminates in low quality products and services.
The agriculture sector is especially renown for the challenges in adhering to maximum chemical residue levels rules which has led to severe losses for farmers and exporters of fresh produce.
“We are checkers of standards to ensure that such certifications are genuine,” says Chesire.
Kenyan private and public organisations ascribe to local and international quality management standards issued by various organisations.
The work of Kenas is checking whether the firms giving accreditation are legitimate. The organisation has accredited testing laboratories, calibration laboratories, inspection bodies and certification bodies
Unfortunately, while it is the role of Kenas to ensure certifying bodies meet set standards, this is not mandatory and organisations get accredited out of their own free volition.
“We provide assurance to organisations to be able to get calibrations for various procedures against internationally set standards,” he said.
In the case of the construction industry, accreditation of standards would help assure the public of the quality of building controls and identify good building control practices and provide mechanisms for sharing this information throughout the sector.
While in the agriculture sector, food security can only be assured if production is increased and enhanced through quality inputs, good agricultural practices and good post-harvest practices.
This can only be assured through standards assessment activities including testing, inspection and certification to food safety management systems.