LEADER

EDITORIAL: Why medical fees must be regulated

Beneficiaries of the current environment will definitely fight this move tooth and nail.

In Summary

• Currently, the out-of-pocket spending accounts for about 27 per cent of total health expenditure in Kenya.

• Since the outbreak of Covid-19 private health facilities also demand deposits of up to Sh600,000 before admitting Covid-19 patients.

Health CS Mutahi Kagwe visits Revital Healthcare Plant in Kilifi
Health CS Mutahi Kagwe visits Revital Healthcare Plant in Kilifi
Image: MAGDALINE SAYA

Many Kenyans live in constant fear what would happen to them if they get ill.

This is because out-of-pocket payment for healthcare remains high. It accounts for at least 27 per cent of total health expenditure in Kenya.

At the same time, the cost of medical services, especially in private facilities, has outpaced the national inflation in recent years.

The revelation by laboratories regulator, the Kenya Medical Laboratory Technicians and Technologists Board, that patients are being ripped off, is timely. (See Page 8)

The board's survey shows most public hospitals lack laboratory testing facilities. Patients are, therefore, forced to go to private laboratories, where they are grossly overcharged and pay up to six times the normal cost of tests such as malaria diagnosis.

Since the outbreak of Covid-19, private health facilities also demand deposits of up to Sh600,000 before admission.

This not only hinders the access to healthcare but also drives many Kenyans into poverty.

The timely decision by the National Assembly's Committee on Health to regulate such fees is thus welcome.

Last week, the committee tabled proposed amendments to the Health Act. This would see medical charges regulated by the Kenya Health Human Resource Advisory Council, in consultation with relevant statutory bodies and stakeholders.

Beneficiaries of the current environment will definitely fight this move tooth and nail. But it is the best path toward the universal health coverage in Kenya.