Medics: Cheaper doctor charges will not make you achieve UHC

Kenya Medical Association Secretary General Lukoye Atwoli and Kenya Medical Association president Jacqueline Ktulu at the Kenya Medical Association offices on January 5, 2019. [Edward Kiplimo,Standard]

Medics have dismissed government plans to slash doctor charges, saying it will not make Universal Health Care (UHC) achievable.

The Kenya Medical Association (KMA) said the push to cut the fees by 20 per cent, which targets private facilities, will not be significant in the overall cost of healthcare as most public hospitals don’t have enough doctors or equipment.

The medics’ body argued that in public hospitals, there is no doctor’s charge being levied as most doctors are on salary.

“Pricing in the private sector should be market-controlled. It is the same way you can walk to a small hotel and take tea at Sh10 or go to another and buy the same for Sh1,000. It should be a matter of choice ,” said KMA President Jacqueline Kitulu.

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Director Medical Services Jackson Kioko said the ministry had taken UHC seriously and one of its tasks is making healthcare not just affordable, but also accessible.

Kioko said Kenya is among countries where the cost of healthcare is beyond the reach of almost 40 per cent of the population.

“One of the reasons Kenyans travel abroad for treatment is because services there are cheaper especially essential medicine and diagnostics services,” said Kioko.

The State’s move to include slashing of doctors’ charges as part of the UHC agenda has not been received warmly by medics as KMA noted that the kind of package adopted has not included private facilities.

“UHC in its definition is tax-based and in public hospitals. This means there will be no fee for citizens seeking treatment in public hospitals and, therefore, looking at doctor’s fees alone does not have an effect on implementation of UHC,” said KMA treasurer Supa Tunje.

The Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board on Friday submitted a preliminary report with the said 20 per cent reduced doctor’s charges recommendations to the Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki.

Kenya Medical AssociationLukoye AtwoliJacqueline KtuluKenya Medical Association president Jacqueline KtuluDirector Medical Services Jackson Kioko