As the saying; every cloud has a silver lining. Something good has indeed come out of the just-concluded 100-day doctors’ strike. The government is hiring 500 doctors from Tanzania to work in our public hospitals.
Inadequate staffing in our hospitals was one of the major reasons the medics gave when they downed their tools late last year.
That currently there is one doctor for every 17,000 Kenyans means the medics have a heavy work load that may ultimately affect the quality of healthcare.
The hiring of any personnel is therefore a welcome development. It should, however, not be a one-off event, but rather a periodic exercise that helps build up the numbers until the country attains the World Health Organisation recommended doctor to patient ratio of 1:1,000.
This means the national government should provide adequate funding for this function and that labour relations issues that have seen doctors opt to resign rather than work under harsh conditions in public hospitals be addressed to stem labour drain reported to be over 2,000 doctors in the last two years alone.
But even as we welcome the hiring of foreigners, we take note that there have been concerns over the infiltration of the profession by quacks from other countries – making it critical that the regulators remain extra vigilant.