By PETER ORENGO
The Government has put more than 2,000 unlicensed medical laboratories on notice in a move to regulate the sector and weed out quacks.
The Kenya Medical Laboratory Technicians and Technologists Board said only 346 laboratories in the county were licensed.
From January 30, the board plans to carry out a thorough audit of the facilities, technicians who work in them and colleges that claim to offer laboratory technician courses.
"We have lost a number of people after they were misdiagnosed in some of these laboratories. Many of them are run by non-qualified personnel and even use sub-standard equipment for the tests," said Michael Wanga, the KMLTTB acting chief executive at a news conference at NASCOP in Nairobi.
He added that there are incidences when patients have been given wrong blood groups when they go for tests because the technicians carried out wrong tests or used wrong reagents.
Wrong Blood tests
"You can imagine when someone with blood group O negative is transfused with blood from people with either groups A or B, because he has to receive only from the same blood group," said Wanga.
In Nairobi, Wanga said, every one kilometre has at least five laboratories purporting to carry out tests on pregnancies, blood groups and HIV.
Some of them even perform minor surgeries including circumcisions, while others illegally perform abortions.
"The result of using wrong equipment by non-qualified technicians is that patients end up getting wrong diagnosis hence wrong medications," said Wanga.
He identified typhoid, malaria, HIV and Aids as some of the diseases that were wrongly diagnosed by quacks running some of the laboratories. He said laboratories have until next month to update their licenses with the Ministry of Medical Services quality assurance auditors.
After the deadline, 75 auditors and inspectors who will include specialist from outside the country will move around the country to check out if standards are being followed.
Some will be based in the counties to ensure no more labs are set up without licence.
And those who plan to import laboratory equipment will have to go through a vetting process to ensure quality.
KMLTTB said only 13 colleges are allowed to offer training in laboratory technology. They include all Kenya Medical Training Institutes, Kenya Polytechnic, Nairobi Technical Training Institute, Eldoret Polytechnic, Kenyan Institute of Applied Science, Ol’ Lessos Technical Training Institute, Gusii Institute of Technology, Mombasa Polytechnic and Kings Medical Polytechnic.
Universities include University of East Africa - Baraton, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Kenyatta and Mt Kenya universities.