February 18, 2019

Hospitals reffering patients to India to be investigated

By Jude Titus

The National Assembly Speaker, Justin Muturi has ordered the Health Committee in Parliament to investigate a group of hospitals which are allegedly taking patients from Kenya for treatment in India.

The National Assembly was given a go-ahead to scrutinize the privately-owned group of health facilities after various reports emerged that patients are being taken to India despite Kenyan doctors being qualified for the job.

The Health Committee which is headed by Rachael Kaki Nyamai, was directed to probe Medanta Afri-Care Group of Hospitals, following an outcry to Parliament by a former employee of the hospital.

Brian Onyango who worked at the hospital before told parliament that the healthcare provider has been in cahoots with the National Hospital Insurance Fund [NHIF] to fleece the scheme by referring patients to India unnecessarily.

‘‘The hospital has been using local doctors to procure patients for treatment in India, paying doctors 2000 US dollars per patient and defrauding NHIF and tax payers. Medanta has been using unqualified medical doctors to treat cases that are supposed to be handled by certified medical practitioners,’’ stated Onyango’s statement.

He also said in the statement that medical procedures such as endoscopy can strictly be executed by qualified doctors and not quacks. However, the hospitals continue to use unqualified personnel posing a risk to patients.

Various Members of Parliament such as Suba MP, John Mbadi supported the investigation plans saying that too many questions have been asked over the number of patients referred to India under strict instructions from their doctors.

‘‘This is a serious issue because medicine is not just another profession. Any act of professional misconduct by practitioners must worry us. We fear that many doctors are referring patients to particular doctors in India for their own gain,’’ said Mbadi.

The NHIF in July last year was asked by the National Assembly Committee on Health to drop the Sh500 monthly fee for people in the informal sector. They urged NHIF to reduce the figure to Sh300 saying that the Sh500 was too expensive for Kenyans without a fixed income.

The committee said it was unrealistic for NHIF to ask boda boda operators and ‘mama mboga’ to contribute Sh500 monthly to cater for their health needs at a time when people in formal jobs who earn over Sh100,000 a month pay a maximum of Sh2,000.

‘‘The committee agrees that the rich must pay for the poor and the payment must be attractive to those who are paying to get more people into the scheme. The payment must be supported through actuarial studies so that we ensure it works,’’ said Rachael Nyamai.

Dr Rachael Kaki Nyamai is the current Member of Parliament for Kitui South Constituency.

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