Health clinics operated by quacks shut in crackdown

Saturday October 29 2011

Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board chief executive officer Daniel Yumbya (left) when he closed a clinic during a crackdown in Nairobi last year. Photo/FILE

Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board chief executive officer Daniel Yumbya (left) when he closed a clinic during a crackdown in Nairobi last year. Photo/FILE 

By ELISHA OTIENO [email protected]

Twenty-two health facilities have been closed down in Nyanza and Western provinces for operating illegally.

Some 18 workers found in the clinics were also arrested by officials from  the Medical Practitioners and Dentists’ Board during a swoop that caught them unawares.

In some of the facilities, in-patients  were transferred to government hospitals.

The board’s chief executive officer, Mr Daniel Yumbya, who led the operation, said they had received complaints from the public on the mushrooming illegal clinics in the region.

“Quacks who are out to make a quick buck have opened clinics where they endanger the lives  of unsuspecting patients. Some even administer expired drugs to members of the public,” he said.

Some clinic owners  in South Nyanza quickly shut their premises  on learning that the team was in the area.

“We are asking members of the public to give us information on the existence of illegal clinics so that we can safeguard the public against quacks,” Mr Yumbya said.

In Migori town, two leading clinics were shut after their operators were found to be unqualified. The suspects were arrested.

But the team was, however, impressed  by the services being rendered at Ojele Memorial Hospital during their visit to the facility.

The crackdown came soon after the media exposed a racket  involving sale of Government drugs to private chemists and hospitals in the region.

Some of the supplies are reportedly smuggled across the border to Tanzania where they are sold to health facilities.

Investigations showed that some traders erase the “GK” labels on the packets and boxes.

Most Government drugs are marked on their packets and containers. Previously all tablets from State stores were clearly marked GK.

Some Ministry of Health workers  are believed to be involved in the scandal in which the Government has lost millions of shillings.

A senior official at the Migori District Hospital said that  they were aware of the racket and were in the process of sealing the loopholes.

“It is true we have this problem and our proximity to the border has complicated matters. There were some cases in Nyatike Division but we are still investigating,” he said on condition of anonymity because he is not authorised  to speak to the media.

Six years ago, a nurse at the Migori District Hospital was interdicted after she was found to be selling the drugs, causing frequent shortages of the supplies in the public facilities in the area.

Patients complained that sometimes they were referred to buy drugs from specific private chemists and hospitals  in the town whenever there was a “shortage” at the district hospital.

The private facilities, we established, are also managed by secondary school drop-outs who masquerade as nurses and clinical officers.