Doctors voices crucial for shaping healthcare policy in Kenya

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  • Medical Doctors be included in the UHC planning and execution as the key stakeholders and actual implementers of the UHC agenda.
  • Suspension of the Health Amendment Bill 2021 until proper deliberation and consultation is done on the proposed changes in the governance of the health sector.
  • Urgent meetings with stakeholders in the health sector to objectively discuss the drivers
    of the high cost of healthcare in Kenya.

Kenya Medical Association (KMA) has called for the inclusion of health Care Professionals as an essential
pillar in the governance of healthcare systems.

According to the KMA president  Dr Were Onyino, since its founding in 1968, the Kenya Medical Association has been a key stakeholder in the health sector and has promoted the practice of high-quality medicine in Kenya.

In a statement seen by THe Exchange, the Kenya Medical Association is the professional association of registered doctors in Kenya, with the twin mission of championing the welfare of doctors and advocating for quality health care for all.

First Health Convention in Kenya

“This has been through a partnership with the Ministry of Health and its agencies in developing sound health
policies that have transformed the health sector in Kenya. Indeed, our involvement in the several technical working groups at the Ministry speaks highly of the pivotal role we have played in making our health system one of the best in East and Central Africa,” Dr Onyino said.

He also noted that as the representatives of professional doctors, who are fundamental to quality healthcare
provision, we are ardent supporters of the design and smooth implementation of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in Kenya. Successful implementation of UHC will ultimately depend on the services we provide to Kenyans, in collaboration with other professional cadres of healthcare workers.

KMA believes that it is, therefore, the voices of doctors should be consulted and heard. Anything less is bound
to have catastrophic consequences.

“The World Health Organization (WHO) has recognized Health Care Professionals as an essential
pillar in the governance of healthcare systems. These professionals form a necessary representation on boards and councils that are key to the delivery of UHC and in healthcare governance in general,” KMA president said.

Currently, Dr Onyino says that the Kenya Medical Association is a member of the NHIF Board where we have contributed to the reform agenda aimed at optimizing the organization in readiness to implement UHC.

The current proposed National Hospital Insurance Fund (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which leaves the KMA unrepresented on the Board of NHIF, will silence the voices of professional doctors in shaping UHC, which must strike a balance between financial sustainability and providing proper medical services to Kenyans, consistent with the oath we have sworn.

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KMA noted in a statement that it recognizes that healthcare is expensive in Kenya and indeed globally as well. “This is due to a myriad of factors, among them hospitality charges, the high cost of health insurance, and supply chain challenges, including punitive taxes on health equipment, including medication. KMA has been key in trying to drive down the cost of healthcare by strategic payer-provider engagements and lobbying the MOH to manage taxes and other factors that make healthcare expensive and inaccessible to the public,” the president said.

A survey by KMA estimates that doctor’s professional fees are 15-20% of total hospital bills.

Further, the report also noted that the professional fees charged by doctors are already regulated through subsidiary legislation of the Medical Practitioners and Dentists Act (CAP 253).

“An honest conversation between the organizations representing the doctors, insurance providers, hospitals and the Ministry needs to be held to address this issue in its entirety. Our expertise cuts across all facets of healthcare and our members are a valuable asset in this conversation. KMA notes with a lot of concern the hurried passing of legislation in the health sector without proper stakeholder involvement and in most instances completely disregarding the input from key players in the sector,” KMA president Dr Onyino said.

KMA says it has participated in and provided advisory in this reform agenda and continues to do so. KMA is deeply concerned that the health care sector is being imbued with poorly crafted laws that in the long run will reverse the gains made in our healthcare system.

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Dr Onyino says that further, isolating the doctors in preference of political and business interests in health will erode the quality of services offered in the sector and make the attainment of the highest quality of health as provided by the constitution a mirage for many.

RECOMMENDATIONS AS LISTED BY KMA

  • The Ministry of Health and Parliament consider the several memoranda submitted by stakeholders in the health sector, including those by the Kenya Medical Association.
  • Reforms in the health governance sector be anchored on the agreed joint memoranda by the Ministry of Health and the Federation of Health Professionals Association of Kenya (FHPAK) as directed by the Parliamentary Health Committee.
  • Medical Doctors be included in the UHC planning and execution as the key stakeholders and actual implementers of the UHC agenda.
  • The government defends and upholds the dual regulatory framework in place between the State and medical practitioners that aligns to the best practices of health governance as recommended by WHO and WMA.
  • Suspension of the Health Amendment Bill 2021 until proper deliberation and consultation is done on the proposed changes in the governance of the health sector, that are causing unease and anxiety among the doctors.
  • Urgent meetings with stakeholders in the health sector to objectively discuss the drivers
    of the high cost of healthcare in Kenya.

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Yvonne Kawira is an award winning journalist with an interest in matters, regional trade, tourism, entrepreneurship and aviation. She has been practicing for six years and has a degree in mass communication from St Paul’s University.

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