Foreign doctors can now acquire temporary registration in Kenya in revised regulations

After years of red registration and licensing of foreign doctors to practice in Kenya, KMPDC has announced new and ‘friendlier” procedures in enlisting foreigners to practice in the country.

This comes at a time when the regulator moves to improve oversight in the sector as Kenya intensifies efforts to achieve Universal Health Coverage by 2022.

In an interview with The Practitioner, KMPDC Licensing Manager John Kariuki said the Council has started issuing temporary registration certificates to foreign doctors. He says once they acquire the certificate, the doctors are then able to apply for a temporary license that can be used for up to one year, unlike in previous years.

According to Kariuki, if given the temporary licenses, the doctors will be subjected to same regulations and code of conduct that guide the practice of medicine and dentistry in the country. This includes garnering 50 continuing professional development (CPD) points yearly, before they are able to renew their practicing licenses online.

Kariuki however maintains that despite this, Kenyan doctors still get preferential treatment and are entitled to work anywhere in the country and in several health institutions, unlike foreigners who are only allowed to provide medical and or dental services in only one health facility in Kenya.

“It is important that our stakeholders understand that the practicing licenses issued to foreign doctors limit them to only one hospital. Only Kenyans are able to practice anywhere in the country subject to license renewal,” said Kariuki, “We do not just register and license foreign doctors. Kenya has a rich pool of qualified and competent doctors and dentists offering medical services. We have no intentions to replace Kenyans with foreigners.”

According to the Council, any practitioner not registered in the Republic but who, having valid qualifications from a different country outside the East African Community, and who is desirous of giving medical or dental services in the course of any humanitarian or other valid cause, shall be required to obtain a license upon payment of the prescribed fees.

To acquire temporary registration, foreign doctors must submit copies of curriculum vitae; proof of proficiency in English; a certified copy of a valid registration certificate issued in the country of qualification; a certified copy of a certificate of good standing; passport photos; and national identification documents. After submission of these documents, the practitioner is then subjected to peer review or Council exams (Internship Qualifying or Pre Registration Exams). The doctor further has to submit an employment letter.

 Kariuki says the temporary registration of foreign doctors will help the Council provide more oversight in medical practice. “With digitization of our processes, KMPDC is currently able to provide real time data on the numbers of foreign doctors in the country and where they are working,” he explained.

KMPDC keeps a separate register of foreign doctors, Kariuki pointed out adding, “Only a few foreign doctors are permanently registered to practice in Kenya.”

This is because before 2014, the Council had a provision for permanent registration of foreign doctors, but after changes in regulations, KMPDC did not revoke permanent registration of already enrolled foreign doctors.

Kariuki says the move by the Council to issue foreigners with temporary registration certificates is a step towards improved healthcare.

“Health facilities can identify shortages in their workforce and hire foreigners to fill the gaps. Our work is to enable health facilities, medical and dental practitioners deliver quality health services,” Kariuki noted.

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