In a move that’s expected to gain widespread support from majority of Kenyans, but also criticism from the top echelons of the country’s society, parliament is currently in the process of debating a Bill which, if passed, will see heightened restrictions on the ability of well off Kenyans to solicit medical care from outside the country.
The Bill which aims to further concentrate efforts of improving healthcare within the country by making it hard for the affluent Kenyans, and policy makers to access healthcare abroad has proposed a raft of extreme measures.
One of the proposals contained in the Bill is that no hospital shall be allowed to refer a patient to a hospital outside the country until or unless all local options have been explored and exhausted completely.
Another recommendation is that, even in the event that one does indeed meet the requirements prescribed in the aforementioned scenario, and the local hospital in question has referred him to a hospital abroad for treatment, he or she will still require express permission from the Ministry of Health, before being cleared to seek the needed medical attention.
It is estimated that each time a Kenyan travels abroad to seek medical care, he or she will spend about a million shillings in foreign facilities. It is also estimated that each year, roughly ten thousand Kenyans go to seek medical attention outside the country. This means that on average, Kenyans spend ten billion shillings each year on their quest for outside medical attention, and this is without considering the possible amount spent on the so-called medical tourism (the miscellaneous expenditure someone will spend on upkeep and other basic needs while abroad).
The Bill targets to harness this money and make sure it is spent on local health facilities, thus improve them.
Kenya has had a history of senior government officials seeking medical attention abroad, with the most memorable being the case of former Medical Services minister and current Kisumu Governor, Anyang’ Nyong’o, who despite being in charge of the Heath sector in the country alongside the Minister of Health, went abroad for specialised healthcare.