Wednesday, March 7, 2012
Kenya's Daily Nation recently ran an article about the country's Health Act, 2012, and how it may possibly allow people's sexual partners to access their health records when they pertain to HIV or other sexually transmitted infections. It is not clear how people would prove that they are sexual partners, especially if the person in question has a lot of them. But this proposed exception to confidentiality of health records was only discussed in a footnote, which, we are told at the start of the document means it is not part of the law. Other legal instruments are referred to that may clarify this, however. [Click for a draft of the document.]
So, as yet, "All information concerning a user, including information relating to his or her health status, treatment or stay in a health facility is confidential." But it is high time to address the problem that many people either avoid finding out their status or avoid informing their partner once they know.
According to the act, the healthcare practitioner has a "right to a safe working environment that minimizes the risk of disease transmission and injury or damage to the health care personnel or to their clients, families or property". I wonder if this covers inadvertent infection with blood borne diseases through reuse or careless use of unsterile equipment? In the section entitled 'Promotion and advancement of public and environmental health', there is mention of legislation to be enacted by Parliament to provide measures for "Strengthening infection prevention and control systems including health care waste management in all health facilities".
Of course, healthcare transmitted HIV infections may rarely occur, as is claimed by UNAIDS. But it is possible that the Kenyan government is not prepared to leave the matter to chance, as some of the big players in the HIV industry have done so far.