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Miraa harmful to your health, scientists maintain

By ANTONY GITONGA | December 22nd 2015

The Consortium for National Health Research (CNHR) has defended the reports on miraa and cancer in Marsabit County terming them as successful.

The consortium came to the defence of four scientists who were conducting the research and whose reports were released last month after debates suggested that they did a shoddy job.

CNHR Director Matilu Mwau said the scientists were qualified in their respective fields and did their best despite the budgetary constraints.

"This model of locally driven and funded research was resoundingly successful as the studies were completed, the reports readied and policy briefs developed within one year," he said.

Prof Mwau said the public discussions were not neutral, adding that in the miraa report it was evident that it had negative effects on humans.

"Regardless of the emotive nature of the discussion, we cannot overlook the fact that there is now a substantial body of research evidence that suggests that the stimulant is linked to various negative health outcomes," he said.

In a statement yesterday, Mwau defended the report done by Ochiba Lukandu and Lukoye Atwoli, saying the next step was identifying the real effects on relationships and health outcomes.

"What the researchers could consider next is to conduct studies that demonstrate the direct cause and effect relationships between Miraa and each of the negative health outcomes described in the report," he said.

In a statement, the director said reports in sections of the media were misleading especially on the Marsabit cancer report.

"The article suggested that merchants inimical to our cause dumped radioactive waste in Marsabit several years ago and that this waste was linked to cancer," he said.

He said the cancers reported in Marsabit had nothing to do with radioactive waste, adding that the risk factors did not in any way include hazards linked to the wastes.

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