According to a press release on April 8, the proposals contained in the Health Laws Amendment Bill 2021 will lock out health professionals from the management of healthcare in the country.
“The strange bill seeks to place registered and controlled professionals at the mercy on non-professionals, a previously unheard of and absurd arrangement,” the statement read in part.
The medics worry that if passed by Parliament, the laws will not be able to guarantee the safety of patients in Kenya.
“There are regulatory bodies that oversee various professions in the healthcare industry. Those bodies such as the Nursing Council of Kenya (NCK) for nurses or the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentist Board for doctors. All these have boards whose majority are professionals.
“The new law wants to change the management of all those boards to allow the Health CS to nominate lawyers, accountants and other non-medical professionals to the boards and only one medical expert,” one of the medics told Muhabarishaji.com.
They explained that the effect of this will be that decisions at the management level will not have the much-needed input of medical professionals and could expose Kenyans to harmful practices.
“Suppose the Pharmacy and Poisons Board (PPB) is mandated to authorise a certain drug in Kenya and a majority of its members are not pharmacists, there is a risk that commercial interests could prevail over the health and safety of Kenyans.
“We don’t understand why the government would want to make such drastic changes in the health sector,” the Pharmaceutical Society of Kenya CEO wondered.
Currently, professional associations nominate members of the boards but the new proposals will allow the Health CS to bypass recommendations from the associations which set ethical standards of practice and serve as gatekeepers.
On its part, the Kenya Medical Association (KMA) says that “The proposers of the bill have inserted the PS, Health, PS Finance and Attorney General in all the health regulatory boards. Additionally, the bill gives vague guidelines of organisations and qualifications of people the CS of Health will populate these boards with”.
“The proposed amendments are in our view ridiculous, ill-advised and impracticable. They threaten the integrity of health professions and are gravely perilous to public safety and interest.
“In view of the foregoing, we hereby reject in totality the entire Health Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021,” the Federation of Health Professional Associations representing over 150,000 healthcare workers concluded.