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VAS

Crisis management made easy as pie

EDITORIAL
By | January 28th 2010

Word has it that the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board is planning a swoop targeting 550 medical institutions for not complying with accepted professional standards.

The board, whose main mandate is to register bona fide doctors and dentists to practice in the country, is caught between a rock and a hard place for two main reasons.

First, no illegal practitioner is willing to sit in wait for the board’s visit and secondly, even after they apprehend culprits and haul them before the courts, weak laws and slap-on the-wrist fines ensure the suspects are back in circulation within minutes.

Granted that if the board is targeting 550 institutions spread across 100 districts, this means there are possibly five such illegal practitioners in each district. They operate under the noses of various local authorities and health departments. And who licences their premises? It also means the perennial raids by the board have achieved little in the way of deterrence.

This raises more questions not just about the health sector but also across the spectrum of society. Players concerned with providing quality healthcare should be proactive rather than reactive. This is because they deal with matters of life and death. The looming crackdown is evidence of a system failure. Why else would they lock the proverbial door long after the horse has bolted?

Secondly, announcing their intended swoop is giving the crooks ample notice to cover their tracks or at the very least, lie low for a while.

Tighter controls

What is the point of countless pieces of legislation if there is no intent to enforce the same? How often do we see the Police force announce an operation to mop up guns and ammunition in the wrong hands?

And why are there no tighter border controls and intelligence to deter these in the first place? Why are there no protocols signed with neighbouring states to pool information and even better, extradition covenants in the event the state needs a suspect arrested from a ‘safe’ zone?

How come traffic police conduct countrywide operations to rein in errant drivers, unroadworthy motor vehicles, drunkenness and insurance cheats. Why is the importation, registration, oversight of the entire chain not made foolproof and penalties heavy enough to be sufficient deterrents?

Why do we lend voice to peace makers, mediators, architects, politicians, valuers, town planners and disaster management gurus only after buildings collapse or crops fail, animals starve to death, ferries capsize and planes drop off the skies?

Where are all these experts before tragedies occur? What margin of error should we allow planners, weather forecasters, regulatory agencies and enforcement agents?

As we have argued before in this page, state-of-the-art expertise and big-budget healthcare have their place. But so does common sense medicine. The simplest and most effective intervention, does not require Government planning or donor funding just a basic change in attitude among healthcare providers. If you want to practice, you must be licensed by the authorities, and in this case, Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board.

Quacks open a window for disease outbreaks which are expensive to contain in terms of cost of drugs. Wouldn’t it be cheaper to intervene with improved hygiene, vaccination and adhering to laid-down rules?

Sanctity of life

Also, without doubt, we must raise the bar on the quality of cadres to be recruited as law enforcement officers, doctors, vetting agents as well as ensuring legislation contains sufficient checks and balances towards protecting the sanctity of life.

Giving various regulatory agencies power to arrest and prosecute offenders would be a great start in the war against impunity. Otherwise, swoops and crackdowns serve no other purpose than firefighting instead of trying to prevent a fires breaking out in the first place.

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