At least 7,900 health facilities in Nairobi County are not registered or licensed and are therefore operating illegally, a report has revealed.
The report by the Nairobi County Assembly’s Health Services committee, tabled before the House on Wednesday, revealed that out of the 9,043 health facilities across the county, only 1,079 were registered and licensed to operate.
This means that a whopping 7,964 health facilities are in business illegally and that most Nairobi residents, especially those in informal settlements, could be getting health services from ‘quacks’.
The report resulted from concerns raised by MCAs Francis Ngesa and Joseph Wambugu, who said they were perturbed by the increase in the number of illegal health facilities in the city.
The MCAs' concerns followed the death of a Dandora activist Caroline Mwatha which police said was because of a botched abortion at New Njiru Clinic in Dandora Ward.
“City Hall launched a crackdown on health facilities in collaboration with regulatory boards and councils in the country between December 5 and 7, 2018, inspecting 147 health facilities," said committee chair and Roysambu MCA Peter Warutere.
"Facilities that did not comply with health requirements were closed."
However, minority whip Peter Imwatok faulted the committee and the Executive, saying they had not taken any actions to safeguard the lives of Nairobi residents.
He said the unlicensed health facilities were not closed as soon as possible.
“This report simply means that out of every 10 health facilities that Nairobi residents visit, eight are likely to be unlicensed, putting lives at risk. I expected the Executive to have closed all the unregistered clinics but to date they are still operating."
The Makongeni Ward MCA called on the committee to take the matter seriously and ensure all city health facilities are safe.
In his response, Mr Warutere said his team was up to task and would work with the Executive to ensure unlicensed and unregistered health facilities were shut down.
City Hall's Health Services executive Mohamed Dagane explained that the county’s role is to inspect health facilities upon requests by proprietors.
The proprietors must be accredited to operate medical institutions by the respective regulatory boards and must have valid practising licences.
It is the regulatory boards that are ensure compliance with regulations, Mr Dagane said, adding that the inspection of medical facilities is only done once for the purpose of registration.
The regulators include the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentist Board, the Nursing Council of Kenya, Clinical Officers Council, the Laboratory and Radiology boards and the Pharmacy and Poisons Board.
Nevertheless, Mr Dagane said they had collaborated with the Ministry of Health and the regulators to train five health inspectors whose mandate would be to inspect all facilities to enhance patients’ safety and care.
“The officers are in the process of being gazetted as joint health inspectors,” he said, adding that others were on the ground for verification and corrective measures in terms of compliance.