Haltons pharmacy is undoubtedly the largest pharmacy chain in Kenya and most probably in East Africa.With over 50 outlets and the recent signed agreement with Vivo Energy to open 200 outlets at its service stations countrywide you cant fail to notice the success of this pharmacy chain.Haltons in past signed deals with tuskys and Fanisi.
We had an opportunity to interview its founders Dr Louis Machogu.Dr Louis is a pharmacist who holds a diploma in community health from Amref
1.What motivated you to pursue pharmacy?
I come from a family of care givers and particularly pharmacy care givers. My grandfather was a medicine man in a small town called Gesusu in Kisii, his youngest brother was a Pharmaceutical technologist in Molo, I have an uncle and a younger cousin who are pharmaceutical technologists in Nairobi and of course my wife is a Pharmacist devoted to malaria vaccine research.
So, pharmacy care is not only in my DNA but I get great joy when I am able to fuse my caring spirit together with the knowledge from life and pharmacy school to offer a distraught patient calmness from a medication use plan that we are able to stick to, and walk together as we monitor and evaluate the milestones to a better life with or without the ailment that made our paths to cross.
- Which university did you attend?
I went to University of Nairobi school of Pharmacy and graduated class of 2005. My wife was in the same class, she had distinctions I didn’t since my focus was to divided between getting a Degree and a wife J .
3.What motivated you to start Haltons, and what challenges did you face?
Haltons vision was conceived in the then remote town of Maralal, where I also met God (and is incidentally where our 4 th President was conceived), is for Kenyans living a quality and productive life, through access to sustainable pharmacy care.
I was posted in 2006 to Maralal District hospital as the District Pharmacist where I met a mentor Mr. Mike Nkemae. Mike enjoyed serving the people, he was the only government pharmacy staff in the whole District and I remember the joy our patients used to get during their monthly review visits and it all boiled down to having passionate professionals accessible on the ground. This unmet need spurred me to join up with 3 of my former classmates from UoN School of Pharmacy to enter Community Pharmacy which we did in October 2007.
Healthcare is very expensive to deliver under consistent quality (even both National and County government are still grappling with this). To over come this I choose to surround myself with individuals (my former classmates) who would cover the financial and operational adeptness I lacked.
Dr. Edwine Barasa who is one of the pioneer Health Economists in Kenya – earnerd his CPAK while we were still in University
Dr. Francis Mwaniki who was key in the initial modelling of the business having done locums in several pharmacies in Nairobi soon after graduation
Dr. David Ndambuki who was key in us getting our first store in Nairobi from his numerous networks
Even with such a team we still found ourselves stretched and both inefficient and ineffective due to the culture of the Kenyan patient chasing for price over quality of care and life. No matter how well we served Kenyans, cost of medicines still made them consult us and go and buy elsewhere.
4. Where do you see Haltons in next ten years?
As the Vision bearer having reached a dead end, I went looking for a partner that would offer Governance, Finance and operational adeptness to ensure that pharmacy professionals could be placed in any corner of this continent starting with Nairobi and gainfully serve as healers under the banner of Haltons Pharmacy.
That quest lead me to the intimidating doors of Ayisi Makatiani, founder of Fanisi Capital and the guy famed for bringing internet to Africa through Africa Online that he founded in 1994. The rest is history.
This partnership not only gives us a good grounding to chase the Vision but in my own world, I see Haltons easily being the 1st pharmacy chain listed in the NSE so that we can all own a piece of Better Care. Better Living!
5.What other roles do you play in Kenyan pharmacy field?
I have been privileged to serve pharmacists for the last 4 years (Sept 2011 till Sept 2015) as the National Governing Council Member and Nairobi Branch Chair of the Pharmaceutical Society of Kenya (PSK) and I was able to revive interest in the Green Cross initiative which is Pharmacist coming together and reaching the patient in an efficient and cost effective way due to the organization of their numbers.
I have since left to focus on increasing access to quality pharmacy care within Africa staring with Kenya through the vehicle of Haltons Pharmacy.
I encourage all professionals and especially young pharmacy professionals to be involved in their societies and associations as this is an easy way to shape the agenda for the practice and a way of like minded people congregating to better themselves.
6. What are your views on proposed pharmacy bill?
AS far as I know, the Health Bill 2015 is yet to be passed into law, after this then we will see debate on a pharmacy bill as no heath related law can be passed before that.
However, I would like a bill that:
a)I encourage all professionals and especially young pharmacy professionals to be involved in their societies and associations as this is an easy way to shape the agenda for the practice and a way of like minded people congregating to better themselves
b)Encourages sustainable pharmacy practice through self regulation just the way the Matatu SACCOS are self regulated. The regulator only needs to knock on one door to ensure that all those practicing under that roof are doing the right thing instead of how it is now…one regulator against tens of thousands of practitioners.
c)Has all pharmacy professionals working in unison to weed out quacks from the space we are in and
d)Encourages and recognizes specialization and different cadres – my hope is Haltons to open one of the 1st pharmacy housing a Pharmacist specialized in Oncology. Chronic care parents have a lot of over the counter needs that a specialist pharmacist working as part of their treatment and care giving team will add a touch of Better Standards of living to those living with cancer for example.
I don’t have much free time in my life. When I do, you’ll catch me: Playing with my wife & children, Day dreaming of ways in which Haltons Pharmacy can change the world or spending time with my parents and other friends & family members.
I have a short attention span for books. I’d rather wait for the movie 🙂 I like reading our daily journey
9. Favorite quote
“We have not inherited this land from our forefathers, we have borrowed it from our children”, President of the United States of America Barack Obama speaking in Nairobi Kenya 26th July 2015.
The same can be said about the pharmacy practice, we need to leave a better pharmacy practice to the next generation of Kenyans and indeed the whole world.
10. Parting shot?
Pharmacy practice in Kenya is undergoing a renaissance and those open to practice with passion, integrity, ethics and especially as a group of like minded individuals will hold their heads up in dignity as the new dawn breaks.