Since the early 1980s Kenya has been a leader in the field of essential drugs. The 1981 Kenya Essential Drugs List was one of the first comprehensive essential drugs lists in Africa. The National Essential Drugs List has been revised, most recently in May, 1993. The Essential Drugs Programme, started by the Ministry in the early 1980s, is widely recognized as a pioneer in kit system distribution and rational drug use training for rural health facilities. In 1985, Kenya hosted the WHO workshop on The Rational Use of Drugs, whose contribution to enriching the essential drugs concept has become known internationally as, "the Spirit of Nairobi."
Within this background, it is fitting that Kenya now consolidate its experiences in the field of essential drugs into a National Drug Policy. The goal of the National Drug Policy (NDP) is to ensure that pharmaceutical services in the country meet the requirements of all Kenyans for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases using efficacious, high quality, safe and cost−effective pharmaceutical products. This Policy will guide legislative reforms, staff development, and management improvements for pharmaceutical services into the next century. By implementing this policy we shall make a substantial contribution to the provision of quality health−care in the public, private, mission and NGO sectors.