As more and more Kenyans continue to raise concerns over increasing cases of doctor negligence, observers are questioning the independence and diligence of the Medical Practitioners and Dentist Board in dealing with errant members of the profession.

It is a open secret the board funds its activities through registration and licence fees collected from doctors and hospitals hence creating a conflict of interest. This perhaps vindicates the observers’ claim the board cannot effectively punish doctors and hospitals who foot its bills.

Although the board CEO Daniel Yumbya declined to disclose how much it receives from the avenues stated above, estimates by The Standard show it receives at least Sh21 million annually.

The board has 3,503 registered doctors (according to the board’s website), and each doctor pays Sh4,000 per year to be retained in the register. It means the board has collected Sh14 million from doctors who renewed their registration for this year.

Also there were 1,558 registered health centres and hospitals by 2012. Assuming all renewed their licences this year, the board raked in, on the lower end, Sh7.8 million. Hospitals like Nairobi Hospital, Aga Khan and M P Shah pay between Sh100,000 and Sh300,000 for an annual licence.

“We do not get any Government allocation to fund our activities,” said Dr Yumbya. “We rely on doctors, hospitals and donors to fund our operations.”

The board has to meet its operating expenses such salaries for its 18 staff members, transport and fuel as well as allowances. There are also preliminary inquiry committee meetings, which have to be funded. The board also has to hire experts to review some of the cases.

It is widely believed since the board is short of funds it has been unable to implement some measures that would make it easier for the public to report cases of medical negligence.

One proposal was to decentralise its services to make it possible for members of the public to report cases of medical negligence at the county level instead of travelling all the way to Nairobi.

Another project, which Yumbya discussed, was to have better record keeping that would break down the number and nature of cases before it. This would help the board analyse and try solve cases that are most frequent and in certain hospitals.

In contrast to the dilemma the medical board finds its self, other regulators of professionals receive funds from the Government.

All in all, the board, through its full board tribunal, has the mandate punish doctors found to be negligent, but many have questioned whether the board is able to punish its members.