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City Hall now goes digital in issuance of certificate to public food handlers


City Hall is set to go digital in issuance of food handlers certificates in a bid to speed up the processing of the certificates.

Nairobi County government has been on the spot for failing to test public food handlers in the capital for almost a year despite collecting the requisite fees, putting into doubt the safety of food being consumed in the capital.

APPROVAL

Nairobi County Health chief officer Mohamed Sahal said the move by the county to go digital is set to see the turnaround time from payment, testing and certification of food handlers reduced by 50 percent.

Mr Sahal explained that going forward laboratory results will also be submitted online for approval and subsequent issuance of certificate.

“County food handlers testing laboratories are currently undergoing interlinking with other relevant county departments to ensure smooth and speedy issuance of services to food handlers,” said Mr Sahal.

The chief officer pointed out that the digitization process is being powered by National Bank in collaboration with the county and going forward the food handlers will now be required to pay for the food handling certificates online either through M-Pesa or other payment platforms.

“When this program is implemented, the turnaround time from payment, testing and certification of food handlers will be reduced by 50 percent,” he said.

The chief officer further explained that already staff from county owned facilities including Lady Northey Laboratory and STC Casino have been trained on how to use the system with more training set to be rolled out to other testing centers across the county.

In August, Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) regional coordinator for Nairobi Robert Juma revealed that no public food handler has been issued with a certificate of good health for almost a year as the tests are rarely done by the county’s public health officers.

TESTING

He also faulted City Hall for its lack of capacity to test, track and have proof that one has been tested, saying the county government’s four licensed public laboratories capable of carrying out the testing are already overstretched.

Mr Juma challenged the county’s public health department to digitize its systems for proper tracking of food handlers, testing and issuance of medical certificates of good health.

However, Mr Sahal pointed out that City Hall has managed to clear a backlog of 20, 000 cases of testing and issuance of food handling certificates with the issuance of new certificates ongoing.

“We have acted on the backlogs where we have dispensed with 20, 000 cases and currently we have, in store, testing reagents capable of testing 20,000 clients,” he said.

Following the backlash, City Hall launched a crackdown on food handlers operating without certificate of good health arresting over 10 food vendors in Kamkunji and Embakasi for selling uninspected food to residents in the process.

This was after the county had given all food vendors, eateries and other food outlets operating in the county two weeks to reapply for inspection.

However, the operation slowly died a natural death as have been most crackdowns launched by City Hall have suffered.