Clinical officers working in Kenya have to apply for fresh practising licences under a new law, which seeks to streamline the profession and eliminate quacks.
The Clinical Officers (Training, Registration and Licensing) Act 2017 provides a one-year window — beginning June 21 when the law was assented to — for all clinical officers to seek fresh two-year permits to practise the trade.
Previously, only those in private practice had to seek an annual licence but the new regime will now require even those working in the public health facilities to apply.
“After the expiry of 12 months from the commencement of this Act, no person shall engage in the practice of clinical medicine unless that person has been duly issued with a registration certificate and a practising licence by the council in accordance with this Act,” reads section 22(1) of the Clinical Officers Act.
Those found practising as clinical officers without licences will be liable to a fine of Sh100,000 and a jail term of five years.
The new Clinical Officers Council is also mandated to regulate the teaching and practice of clinical health in Kenya by accrediting and approving the curriculum used in universities and colleges.
Those seeking licensing must hold a diploma or bachelor’s degree in clinical medicine and community health, and has undertaken the mandatory one-year internship.
Clinical officers are trained to perform general medical duties such as diagnosis and treatment of general diseases and injuries.
The new statute requires the registrar of the Clinical Officers Council to maintain a public register of all practitioners in Kenya and publish the roll in the Kenya Gazette at the end of March every year.
Kenya Union of Clinical Officers chairman Peterson Wachira said the new law clears the ambiguity of who needed to be licensed. “So long as you’re working, you need a practising licence,” he said.