The risks posed by unregulated practice may seem mild on the surface compared to the havoc brought by inefficient health systems. However, the delicacy of consequences illustrates proper regulation can avert avoidable risks in the dispensation of health services.
Since the start of optometry practice in the country in the early 1980s, the profession has largely been unregulated largely because the number of optometrists in the country was few and the country never had any institution that trained optometrist. In addition, nearly all optometrists who were practicing were foreigners and those who had done short courses on the same discipline thus, had no voice to push for an enactment of regulations.
It’s until the year 2006 when the Kenya Medical Training College started training optometrists at diploma level and later Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology at degree level in 2010. Since then the number of optometrists in the country has been on the rise with an addition of around 520 locally trained optometrists with batches of around 40 optometrists released in the market every year.
In 2011 the optometry fraternity formed the Optometrists Association of Kenya as a professional association to advocate for the welfare of optometrists and the optometry industry at large. Over the years the association has been making progress in advocating for the regulation of the profession. This effort started with a bill sent to parliament but due to the legal threshold of 2500 professions required to form a regulatory council and the fact that we are a long way to reaching the threshold number, and many health bills being presented to parliament the association was referred to the Kenya Health Professions Oversight(KHPOA) established by an act of parliament, the Health Act No 21 of 2017 for regulation.
The association plus other unregulated cadres engaged the authority and agreed on the following steps of licensing, specific to optometrists SEE:
- The optometrists should first register with the professional association/society which will issue a membership certificate.
- The association will forward the names of the registered optometrist to the Authority for
- Once verified, the optometrists will send a dully filled registration form (issued by the KHPOA), a clearance letter from the association, identification and academic
- In addition the member will pay a fee of Ksh 5,000 as a registration fee and a license fee of 5,000KSh paid annually.
- Lastly, the authority will issue a license to the