Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists' Union Secretary General Ouma Oluga.[Photo, Standard]

Medics want the government to invest more in training medical specialists this year as demand for their services increases.

The Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) report that the country has approximately 15 neurologists and 20 oncologists yet their demand is high.

With the planned Universal Health Coverage, the medics said the few specialists on board will be overwhelmed by the number of patients to attend to.

The union resisted any planned attempt by MPs to cut medical fees and charges, saying the government cannot prescribe the terms of engagement between the practitioners and private patients.

In November, the National Assembly Health Committee directed that Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki immediately replaces the existing Medical Practitioners and Dentists Rules 2016 with the second edition of the Professional Fees Rules and Guidelines of 2006, which prescribes cheaper rates for various medical services and procedures.

“This cannot accept that the market operates on the forces of supply and demand. This was uncalled for,” said Gabriel Ouma, KMPDU Liason, Kisumu.

Dr Ouma said there is a need for the government to train more specialists whose demand grows day by day.

Another doctor, Hezron Omollo, said medical training facilities should be expanded and others established across the country.

“To achieve the Universal Health Coverage programme, there is need for adequate human resource,” Omollo said.

The doctors asked the national government to provide funds for training young doctors who want to become neurosurgeons, cardiothoracics and surgeons.

They also suggested that in order to cut the cost of health, drugs for malaria, ARVs, among other essential antibiotics should be manufactured in the country.

They said instead of the government bringing in specialised medics from outside, it would be easier to have those trained in the country who understand the terrain and the needs of the people.

The KMPDU members said the government must consider employing jobless specialist doctors and even more medical officers, dentists, pharmacists, nurses and clinical officers whom the government has “blatantly ignored”, despite the glaring shortage in their fields.