Proposed law could reduce number of Kenyans seeking treatment abroad

Doctors attending to a patient abroad.[Photo: Siemens Healthnieers]

The number of Kenyans travelling abroad for medical treatment may reduce should President Uhuru Kenyatta ascents to the Health Amendment Bill sponsored by Kessess MP Dr Swarup Mishra.

In the proposed law, all hospitals must do everything to save a patient within Kenyan hospitals.

They are only allowed to refer a patient for treatment abroad if they have exhausted all means to treat them.

Dr Mishara in the Bill which was passed by Parliament on February 2 also recommends that those travelling abroad for treatment be cleared by the Ministry of Health.

Once signed into law, no Kenyan patient will be allowed to leave the country without clearance by the Ministry of Health.

Further, the ministry will be tasked with creating a framework to guide patients referred for medical treatment abroad. There will be procedures to be followed by hospitals referring patients abroad for treatment.

Thousands of Kenyan patients fly to India seeking for specialized medical treatment, most of them being cancer-related cases, heart ailments and critical surgeries.

South Africa and UK also top as medical destinations for Kenyans. Data by the Ministry of Health shows that 10,000 Kenyans travel abroad every year for medical treatment.

While Kenya’s health institutions in the country could treat some ailments, the wealthy elites are among the top medical seekers abroad.

The downside of treatment abroad is that it is expensive and has drained many families back in the country.

A case in point is that of the late Juja MP Francis Waititu alias Wakapee who succumbed to brain cancer a week ago.

When he was diagnosed in 2017, he flew to India for treatment and coughed up Ksh8 million for a period of two months.

When he returned, he decried that the high cost of housing in India made it impossible for an average Kenyan seeking cancer treatment.

However, the Kenyan government has laid emphasis on tapping services from Kenyatta University Teaching and Referral Hospital as the to-go-to cancer centre.