Dr Ibrahim Matende urges governors to recruit more eye
specialists to curb the shortage
Delegates and medical scholars from 22 African countries have converged for a conference at the Sarova Whitesands Beach Resort in Mombasa County.
They are meeting under the Association of Medical Councils of Africa to develop protocols on reciprocal licensing for practitioners across the globe.
The chief executive officer of the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board, Mr Daniel Yumbya, said the protocols will deter deregistered medical practitioners from practicing in another country thereby risking the lives of patients.
“Some of the expected outcomes include protocols.
"For example, when a doctor is licensed to work in Kenya and wants to go and practice in Botswana, is Botswana going to accredit that Kenyan doctor to practice without any complications and problems?” Mr Yumbya wondered.
He said the doctors will also deliberate on licensing of foreign doctors due to an upsurge currently being experienced in Africa.
Speaking with journalists at the conference, Mr Yumbya said some of the foreign doctors are qualified though others have questionable qualifications and are putting the lives of patients at risk.
“We want to curb cases of doctors who have been deregistered in their mother countries due to indiscipline cases from crossing over to other countries and practice,” he said.
“We want to ensure only the best practitioners are allowed to work in our country. Medical tourism is also important. We want to know which country in Africa is giving universal health coverage,” he added.
The Kenyan doctors said although there are challenges facing the devolution of health, solutions must be found.
“At the end of the day, wananchi need services. Doctors are human beings; they have families to fend (for),” said Dr Ouma Oluga, the secretary-general of the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union.
Mr Yumbya insisted that the key thing in devolution is financing.
“We cannot sit back and watch as patients continue to suffer. If cash is given to the counties, if healthcare workers are motivated, paid adequately and promptly, then there would be no issues. We appeal to healthcare workers to be patient,” he said.
He said Kenya is privileged to hold the conference during the tenure of Prof George Magoha, the president of the Association of Medical Councils of Africa.
“Kenya is looking forward to (winning) the Friday elections. Prof Magoha will be back to lead the association,” he added.
Mr Yumbya said the conference gives the practitioners an opportunity to share experiences on the best and worst practices.
At the same time, it emerged that Kenya has a shortage of 900 ophthalmologists (eye specialists), with more than five counties lacking the practitioners.
Dr Ibrahim Matende, the president of the College of Ophthalmology of Eastern Central and Southern Africa said Africa has limited eye specialists and resources.
He said the international standard is about one eye specialist to a population of 200,000 people. However, Kenya has about 120 practitioners.
He said a majority of the eye specialists work in the cities, with Nairobi leading with about 25, Mombasa eight, Kisumu three while Kwale has one.
He said Turkana and Lamu counties have no eye specialists.
MORE EYE SPECIALISTS
Dr Matende urged governors to recruit more eye specialists to curb the shortage, saying most eye ailments in Kenya are treatable.
“We need to be sure that we maintain standards that are above board", he said.
He said doctors in Kenya leave for greener pastures in other countries like Botswana due to a poor working environment, limited training opportunities and poor remuneration.
He added that devolution of health services was rushed and doctors’ welfare was not addressed.
“We are running short of human resources in Africa while our specialists are soaring high overseas. African countries should train more eye specialists,” he added.
Meru Governor Peter Munya, the chairman of the Council of Governors, Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho, Health Cabinet Secretary James Macharia and Director of Medical Services Nicholas Muraguri are among the expected guests at the conference.