Doctors have once again raised the red flag over an alleged influx of foreign medics into the country, questioning the qualifications of some of the expatriates.
Through the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU), the doctors also claim that some foreigners are getting employment priority over locals who are more or equally qualified for such opportunities.
Secretary-general Ouma Oluga claims private facilities, NGOs and mission hospitals are notorious in discriminating against Kenyan doctors when it comes to employment, thus violating the law.
“The union is concerned that there is an increasing trend where some select facilities, especially mission and foreign-owned private facilities employ foreign medics when there are enough Kenyan medical practitioners who are qualified and skilled to take up such employment opportunities,” he told the Business Daily.
Dr Oluga claims there are at least 1,800 practising foreign doctors listed on the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Board (KMPPDB) register.
“The actual number of these foreign doctors could actually be up to 2,400 working in various hospitals across the country,” he said.
The board, however, refuted the claim and provided a list showing much fewer foreign doctors registered in Kenya.
Chief executive Daniel Yumbya said in an interview: “The law requires that Kenyan doctors be given first priority and this has been the practice. The skills brought in by the foreign doctors complement what is available in the country.”
Mr Yumbya added that only 392 foreign doctors were licensed for 2018 — spread out in 125 hospitals.
“The facilities with the highest number of foreign doctors are mission and teaching hospitals where doctors work on voluntary and non-competitive terms,” he said.
The doctors however claim members of the public have raised the alarm regarding the ethics, communication and treatment rendered in some facilities believed to be notorious in employing only foreign medics.
In 2016, Kenyan doctors sounded the alarm over a swelling number of unlicensed foreign medics who were flying into the country for consultancy services that result in referral of hundreds of patients to overseas hospitals every year.
He added that some facilities like Coptic Hospital have often selectively preferred to employ only foreigners when there are over 1,400 doctors who are unemployed.
By May 2018, the number of unemployed Kenyan doctors is estimated will hit 3,000 despite the acute shortages of medics in both private and private facilities, he said.
Official data from KMPDB shows that seven facilities with several branches across the country have over 10 foreign doctors per hospital.
AIC Kijabe Hospital leads the pack with a total of 63 foreign medical doctors registered for 2018 followed closely by Tenwek Mission Hospital in Bomet with 41 foreign medics, according to the Board.
The Aga Khan University Hospital has 34 foreign doctors while Coptic Mission Hospital and North Kinangop Catholic Hospital have 23 and 11 respectively.
Kenya Medical Research Institute Wellcome Trust Research Programme is the only non-hospital facility with over 10 foreign medics registered for next year – at 11.
The leading foreign specialists who come into the Country are Orthopaedics, Surgeons and internal medicine experts.
In 2017 the Board arrested 22 Kenyan fake doctors and two foreign quacks (following investigations by this Newspaper) practicing without licenses, endangering the lives of unsuspecting Kenyans.
“The Board carries out regular and guided inspections of health institutions to ensure compliance and legal action is taken on those who are in contravention,” said Mr Yumbya.