The medical regulator has deregistered 2,063 doctors and 212 dentists for failure to apply for retention in its register.
In a move likely to send shock waves through the health sector, the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board (KMPDB) announced the decision in an advertisement on Wednesday.
“Notice is hereby given to the general public, medical and dental practitioners, health institutions and health sector employees (public and private) that the KMPDB resolved to remove 2,063 medical practitioners and 212 dentists from the register,” read the ad.
The affected doctors failed to apply to be retained on the register as per industry regulations.
The board’s decision comes four months after rollout of the pilot phase of the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) programme in Machakos, Nyeri, Isiolo and Kisumu counties.
A doctor cannot practice in Kenya without a licence. The move is likely to seriously hamper government plans to provide subsidised medical care under the UHC.
With a doctor patient ratio of one to 16,000, Kenya has an acute shortage of doctors and dentists.
This is according to a statement delivered by Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki while briefing the press at Afya House.
The World Health Organisation recommends a minimum of 1.5 medics per 10,000 people, or three doctors for every 20,000 people.
Statistics show that Kenya, with an estimated population of 46.6 million, has 7,433 doctors. This means a ratio of one doctor for every 6,269 people.
As positive as that ratio may seem, the fact remains that most doctors are concentrated in urban areas, with Nairobi taking the lion’s share of specialists.
Rural areas are at a disadvantage, forcing patients grappling with complicated medical conditions to travel to towns and cities to receive specialised services.
Defending the board’s action, KMPDB chief executive Daniel Yumbya denied any ill-motive regarding the move.
“We did not take the action out of malice. The doctors and dentists knew about the requirements and were given ample time to comply, but they simply failed to do so without giving us reasons. We have no option but to let the law take its course,” Mr Yumbya said.