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Seal regulatory loopholes to stop quacks from ruining professions

By Jackline Mwende

If a person told you he or she can fly a plane, but they have no formal training and are not licensed, would you board the plane?

In the recent days, Kenyans have been bombarded with surreal reality of individuals offering services without qualifications and licenses.

Brian Mwenda, the alleged ‘fake lawyer’, is said to have been involved in several court cases, presenting himself as an advocate of the High Court of Kenya. It is alleged that he won 26 court cases he was arguing on behalf of his clients. According to Law Society of Kenya, Mwenda is suspected to have stolen the identity of lawyer Brian Mwenda Ntwiga through a business email compromise fraud scheme.

A few days later after Mwenda’s incident, Sharon Adunya Atieno was busted by the LSK having allegedly stolen and used the national identity of Sharon Atieno Obade to fake a practising certificate and even register her own law firm.

The Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Council announced de-registration of David Nyawade Onyango as a medical practitioner after allegations that Nyawade has been operating as a medical doctor without registration. It is alleged that Nyawade claimed to be a surgeon despite lacking a medical degree.

In 2016, Ronald Melly, a 28-year-old man from Nandi County, was arrested following allegations of practising medicine for over two years without a medical degree. This was after Melly allegedly performed eight surgeries at Kapsabet County Referral Hospital before being transferred to head Meteitei Sub- County Hospital. By 2016, he had performed nine surgeries and eight were reportedly successful.

Some people may wonder – is there a need of formal educational training if you can succeed without it? Some people may be born a genius so, classroom education for them is just a formality. Being street smart, at times, may surpass success from formal education. But can that be good enough grounds to dismiss the significance of formal education?

In the past, skills were passed from one person to another through apprenticeship. Midwives, medicine men and others developed, perfected, and succeeded in their craft through preparation. In the modern, the apprenticeship approach may be susceptible to abuse in certain professions hence the need to have in place systems with proper educational and skills regulation.

Impersonation is a crime punishable by law even if you have the skills and the talent for a specific profession. Time eventually catches up and the downfall could be devastating.

Human beings will always have diverse characters. They will do the unimaginable to survive in the jungle, especially now in the tough economic times we live in. While it may not be possible to change or influence what human beings are capable of, effective systems can be put in place to ward off such incidents.

These impersonation cases could be seen as anomalies emanating from loopholes in the system, not as proof that education is unnecessary. Most professions have systems to regulate entry according to qualifications and ensure uniformity and standards are maintained. How such incidents still occur in these systems raises eyebrows about how effective the systems are. How fraudsters access critical systems, register themselves as qualified, get fake licenses is still a mystery.

Strong educational and professional systems, supported by proper regulations and oversights will ensure that individuals are competent, appropriately qualified and licenced in their respective professions, to ensure the well-being of the society. Efforts should be made to address the loopholes in the systems to prevent such incidents and uphold the importance of education in our society.

Mwende possesses MA in Public Relations

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