Health facilities are now barred from referring patients abroad before exhausting local hospitals for medical attention.
This comes after members of parliament on Tuesday passed the health amendment bill that proposes patients to only be referred for treatment outside the country if there is sufficient evidence that local hospitals lack the capacity to handle their medical condition.
The Health Amendment Bill, 2019 seeks to streamline the mechanisms for referral of patients to health institutions outside the country.
According to the new Bill sponsored by Kesses Member of Parliament Swarup Mishra, the Health Cabinet Secretary will be required to develop policy guidelines on the mechanisms for referrals of patients to health institutions abroad.
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The new bill also says that nobody will be allowed to travel abroad for treatment without the approval from the ministry.
According to the Ministry of Health, 10,000 Kenyans travel overseas annually in search of specialised medical treatment, spending at least Ksh15 million.
India, South Africa, the UK, and the USA are some of the main destinations for Kenyans seeking treatment.
Some of the most sought medical services by Kenyans travelling abroad include oncology, cardiac surgery, advanced neuro-spine surgery, transplant surgery, and assisted reproductive technology.
Medical tourism has been highly lucrative with some agents being on the receiving end for taking advantage of desperate patients who in some instances have been forced to part with a referral fee of up to Ksh400,000.
Some agents have been accused of persuading Kenyans to go overseas even when treatment is available locally.
The bill is also considered timely following the setting up of an Integrated Molecular Imaging Center at Kenyatta University Teaching and Referral Hospital.
The state of the art facility launched in September last year is the first to diagnose and treat cancer hence no need for Kenyans to travel abroad said Health CS Mutahi Kagwe.
The molecular centre will offer prevention, screening, diagnostics, treatment, survivorship and palliative care services.
It will house a PET Radio-pharmacy System which readies the radio-isotopes for imaging, and the coveted PET/CT scanning machines.
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