It's business as usual at hospitals delisted by State
- The Ministry ordered the closure of 566 facilities operating illegally until they comply and apply to the relevant regulatory bodies for inspection.
- Gynaecologist Nelly Bosire advises that the use of technology will curb fake cards, making it easier to identify the quacks.
Most health facilities that the Ministry of Health ordered closed are still operational, the Sunday Nation has learnt.
On Thursday, the Ministry ordered the closure of 566 facilities operating illegally until they comply and apply to the relevant regulatory bodies for inspection.
The crackdown has also led to the arrest of 26 quack doctors. The closure of the health facilities was to take place immediately, spearheaded by the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board (KMPDB).
In Nairobi and Kisumu counties, a number of the delisted hospitals were operational despite the notice.
For instance, Sigma Medical and Lab Services, Tiba Poa Care Center, all located in Pipeline, and Smart Dental Clinic in Kayole were all open for business.
The facilities were closed because they were being operated by unqualified people. “It is not that we have committed a big crime. Several unlicensed chemists are operating around, why is it that they are concentrating on us? I am not a quack; I am qualified, but I don’t have that money needed by the Board to register these facilities,” shouted one of the attendants in Pipeline.
Here, the affected facilities are barely 20 metres apart, with advertisements of their services plastered on their walls.
In Kisumu, Ajosa Community Medical Clinic, Karure Medical Clinic and Karanjee and Global Provides, unqualified personnel were attending to patients as hinted by the Board.
But what does it take for a health facility to be registered? After a facility has been adequately equipped, the county health management team is invited to carry out an inspection.
“Once the facility is inspected and given a clean bill of health, the pre-licence inspection report is sent to the Board with recommendations,” says Mr Daniel Yumbya, KMPDB Chief Executive Officer.
A form with the requirement for opening a facility is filled and sent with the report. It is then submitted to the inspection and licensing committee for approval.
“Once everything is considered OK, it takes only a week for the approval to be done after the payment of registration and annual licence fees,” Mr Yumbya explains.
For instance, nursing homes pay registration fees of Sh15,000 and Sh30,000 annual licence fees; while a maternity home pays Sh15,000 and Sh25,000, respectively. Dispensaries pay Sh5,000 for both registration and licensing.
Basic health centres pay Sh10,000 and Sh15,000, respectively. For funeral homes, one has to part with Sh15,000 for registration and Sh20,000 for a licence.
But why is the number of illegally operated health facilities so high? Is it because of the costs involved or the tedious process of getting registered?
Mr Yumbya argued that the market is filled with people who want to make money at the expense of the lives of Kenyans.
But this has been the norm year in year out, leaving many wondering what the Board’s long term strategy is in a bid to curb the menace once and for all.
Last year, the government introduced a short message service code 20547 as a way of curbing the menace of fake doctors and unregistered health facilities.
However, it is not operational, giving room for more quacks to permeate the market.
The code was to enable Kenyans get the details and qualifications of the doctor and facilities.
When one keys in the name of the facility, it is expected to reveal its location, the doctor in charge and services offered.
Dr Nelly Bosire, a gynaecologist and obstetrician, argues that in Kenya the title ‘doctor’ has been reduced to any person of the male gender wearing a white dust coat within a medical institution.
The public does not seem to be aware that the dust coat is a protective gear, worn by those who come into contact with patients or laboratory samples for purposes of infection prevention.
“The biggest challenge is that patients are not aware of the differentiation of cadres and their scope of service, to the extent that they fail to even recognise quacks,” Dr Bosire said.
How do we mitigate this? Dr Bosire advises that the use of technology will curb fake cards, making it easier to identify the quacks.
“However, for this technology to be successful, patients must step up and make it work. Call out quacks by asking to see their identity cards as soon as they are rolled out. And where forgery is suspected, alert the authorities and refuse to accept the quack’s services,” she says.
She adds that the law must also be enforced. “Any person purporting to be a doctor must be dealt with to the fullest extent of the law, otherwise, they will get on with their fraud and in the process, cost this country lives. Together, let us make things right,” she says
Mr Yumbya said that with the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board Amendment Bill, 2018 - which was signed into law - in May this year, heavy penalties will scare the fraudsters.
He said that the cash penalty of Sh20,000 and a maximum jail sentence of six months made the work of the Board untenable, as they are not punitive enough to act as deterrence.
The bill proposes that the penalty be increased to Sh5 million. “This is not going to be debatable. I am happy that after the next crackdown, there will be no more of this huge number. Just watch,” he said.