Board suspends foreign medical camps to ‘protect Kenyans’
The national medical board has said the move to suspend medical camps by foreign doctors is meant to “protect Kenyans” from some of the visiting doctors who have not been cleared by the institution.
According to the chairman of the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board Prof George Magoha, there is a “alarming trend” of doctors who host medical camps which are actually “hunting grounds for patients.“
Prof Magoha told the Nation on phone: “We are seeing people coming here and give diagnosis to illnesses that just require palliative care or can be treated locally instead of a referral. We are more concerned if some of these doctors harm our people.”
He added: “You cannot go and treat people without a licence anywhere in the world and it is necessary for us to come up with a policy of how this is done in the country and we will be speaking to different stakeholders on how to go about this.”
Prof Magoha said the policy would also involve the counties too because the camps are held in their turf.
Prof Magoha did not give a timeline of when this policy would be ready or when and if the suspension will be lifted.
Local doctors and companies, though, will be allowed to host the camps but upon request and permission from the board.
Kenya Medical Practitioners Pharmacists and Dentists Union has lauded the move saying it is “long overdue” and welcomed it as efforts to ensure “quality health care.”
The union’s Secretary-General Dr Ouma Oluga said: “We have over 1,400 foreign doctors with questionable qualifications whose work is just to ferry patients abroad. We can’t keep having foreigners when Kenyan doctors have to be subjected to a series of exams to go abroad.”
Women 4 Cancer, a cancer advocacy organisation that hosts several medical camps, also supported the directive by the board but called on it to “guard against penalising research programmes that are part of the medical camps.”
Ms Benda Kithaka, the chairwoman of Women 4 Cancer said: “Some of these camps are beneficial in bringing access to health care for marginalised population. The camps also gather data that informs health system strengthening.”
Kenyan doctors have in the past months been accused of collaborating with some foreign practitioners to fleece Kenyans with unnecessary referrals for kickbacks from the foreign health facilities.
Several medical camps for cancers, cardiac, reconstructive surgeries, optical, and other ailments are often hosted in the country by both local and foreign doctors where patients are screened, treated and referred (within and outside the country) for treatment after the camp.
Some camps are free of charge but others charge consultation fees and the treatment costs are subsidised.