THE move taken by the Ministry of Health to conduct an inspection exercise against unlicensed clinics offering medical services, as well as unqualified people operating as medical personnel, has been long overdue.
The operation, jointly coordinated by the Medical and Dental Practitioners Council, the Allied Health Professionals Council and the Nursesâ€™ Council, deserve all the support and cooperation of the medical professionals and the public.
According to Dr. John Ndiku, the coordinator of the exercise, the ministry took action following a public outcry and complaints from medical practitioners about unqualified people treating patients.
The operation that started in Kampala is aimed at verifying the location of clinics, ownership, licence status of practitioners, registration status of clinics and suitability of premises.
Over the past few years, there has been a mushrooming of clinics particularly in the city and other urban centres. According to the health ministry, there are 910 licensed clinics in Kampala. But there is no doubt that there are many more unlicensed clinics just in Kampala alone.
It is extremely dangerous to let unlicensed clinics operate or for quacks to masquerade as health professionals. Since public health facilities are few and the private hospitals charge exorbitant bills, a lot of people, particularly in the low-income urban centres and rural areas, largely depend on these clinics for medical services.
It cannot be ruled out that many people are losing their lives because they are being â€œtreatedâ€ by quacks. It is the responsibility of the Government to ensure that citizens, irrespective of their economic and social status, have access to quality health services.
There is need to establish a permanent mechanism for closely monitoring health facilities, private and public, to ensure they observe required standards and that the health professionals adhere to their code of conduct. People who are aggrieved by the conduct of health professionals or institutions currently find it difficult to get redress.
Crackdown on illegal clinics long overdue