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Bid to force State workers attend public hospitals

An MP has filed an amendment to the Health Bill, which if passed will force all Government employees to seek treatment in public hospitals.

The changes, filed with the office of the Clerk of the National Assembly, make it illegal for a public servant to go to a private hospital.

The penalty for a public servant seeking treatment in a private health facility will be a maximum fine of Sh1 million or a maximum jail term of three years, or both.

"A public officer shall seek medical treatment from a public health facility where medical treatment is being funded by public health facilities," reads the amendment filed by nominated MP Zuleikha Hassan Juma.

The lawmaker insisted that the goal of the amendment was to force the public health officials to improve service delivery in Government hospitals, and to also push leaders to spend more on the health sector.

"Although public officers will struggle a bit for a year or two, eventually the health services will improve as oversight and budgetary allocations will increase as the government officers will now be directly affected by public health services. It is quite possible that we can eventually have high quality public facilities in Kenya, just like in other countries," Ms Zuleikha said.

More income

She added: "If the amendment passes, the public health facilities will also get more income."

The proposed law seeks to set up a national health system, which according to the Bill "shall progressively realise the right to the highest attainable standard of health, which includes the right to healthcare services including reproductive health".

The public health sector has been plagued with cash shortfalls that have led to numerous strikes by nurses and doctors, and a renewed clamour for all the functions in the health sector to be reverted to the national government. The latter manages the referral hospitals, while all other hospitals are managed by county governments.

The Bill also sets up a mechanism through which county and national governments shall get feedback on the quality of service from any service provider, whether public or private and also prescribes what action shall be taken.

It sets up the Kenya Health Professions Oversight Authority which shall punish all those who fail to address complaints that have been raised.

The list of amendments shall be debated in the National Assembly as soon as the House Business Committee puts it on the schedule within the next two weeks before legislators take their Christmas break.

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