Musa Radoli @PeopleDailyKe
Quacks are infiltrating the local health sector, making a killing while providing substandard and fake services. Experts say quacks find their way into the once exclusive medical profession, mainly for monetary gains and not provision of quality services to patients, who in most cases are gullible, trusting and desperate for medical attention.
Health Principal Secretary Julius Korir says the situation is so bad with no sign of it getting better in sight as sector regulator and other government law enforcement agencies appear unable to effectively contain the infiltration. “We estimate Kenyans could be losing more than Sh3 billion annually to quacks,” he says.
Korir says quacks infiltrating the industry are simply smart con men and women who develop interest in the medical practice to have some rudimentary knowledge of medicine, wear medical outfits, particularly stethoscopes and they are good to go.
Director of Medical Services (DMS) Jackson Kioko said the government is aware that thousands of Kenyans who fall sick are losing billions of shillings annually to these con men and risking their lives.
“They (quacks) are cunning and elusive, but we shall not relent on cracking down on them until they are completely weeded out of the health industry. Apart from hoodwinking and stealing from innocent sick people, they are posing a grave danger to their lives,” added Dr Kioko.
He says most affected towns include Nairobi, Mombasa, Nakuru, Eldoret, Kisumu, Nyeri, Embu, Kitale, Kakamega, Naivasha and virtually every county headquarters in the country.
“They are also infiltrating very fast in rural and urban areas in all comers of the country, especially where access to quality government and certified private health providers is difficult.
Kioko said that in these towns some are found to be having the audacity of opening their clinics even in the central business districts while others tend to concentrate their operations in residential areas where the population is high.
“The worst scenario is the fact that most of them are involved in procuring abortions at fees ranging from as low as Sh1,500 to as high as Sh15,000 or more depending on the victim and the prevailing circumstances. As a result deaths have been reported and lives of many Kenyans ruined,” he said.
According to the medical services director, it is worse that most of the victims are teenage girls some of who are still in school. Many cases have ended up in deaths while other teenagers have had their lives ruined in the hands of the quacks, yet the tide has not stopped.
Kioko says apart from abortion, quacks are involved in providing a wide range of sub-standard medical services to un-suspecting members of the public and their children from whom they receive large sums of money. Most of the charges are in terms of “consultation fees, medical services, fake laboratory services and medicines”, among other things.
The same quacks are also part of cartels repackaging, selling and dispensing expired or counterfeit drugs smuggled into the country and sold on the black market.
“These pests are deadly and dangerous, not just to our profession but to the hundreds of thousands of innocent patients who go out there to seek treatment only for them to be fleeced and their lives put in danger,” said Dr Isaack Odongo.