Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki has urged medics to offer quality health care services to patients.
Speaking in Nairobi on Wednesday at a workshop for capacity building and strategic planning organised by the Association of Medical Councils of Africa (AMCOA), Ms Kariuki said the medical profession is a calling that health workers should not take for granted.
"Over the years, we have had serious ethical issues with some medical professionals. The calling of a doctor is like that of a priest. The only difference is that doctors must save lives for this world, while priests do so for the world to come. This requires almost total dedication to duty and absolute commitment to the needs of the human race," she said.
Ms Kariuki reminded health staff that patients had equal rights. She urged them to adhere to the Hippocratic Oath of service they took to safeguard lives.
"My take is that patients, whether poor or rich, able or unable require your services. There is need for doctors to reciprocate with allegiance to their oath of office by giving their best to patients at all times," said the CS.
The three-day conference is themed 'Core Operations of a Regulator'.
Ms Kariuki said the problem was not just restricted to Kenya, but was a significant challenge for health care service delivery in many countries worldwide.
"Health facilities in many countries reel under the burden of medical negligence whose only panacea is effective regulation," she said.
The CS reminded health workers that they must apply the principles of delivering health care that was safe and beneficial for patients.
"Healthcare providers must embrace and implement the principles of clinical governance to ensure delivery of high quality services," said Ms Kariuki.
The minister said it was important for health workers and facilities to adopt the best procedures in order to ensure the highest quality of care for patients.
"Health care regulation is of critical importance to ensuring a quality system that is timely, accessible and affordable. It is critical that institutions providing healthcare and individual physicians, whether in the private or public sectors, embrace best practice models to ensure better outcomes for patients," she said.
Ms Kariuki lauded AMCOA for supporting medical regulatory authorities in Africa in ensuring high standards of medical education, registration and regulation, as well as facilitating the ongoing exchange of information among medical regulatory authorities.
Ms Kariuki said the timing of the continental conference was relevant to Africa's pressing needs at a time when health care service delivery is increasingly coming under scrutiny.
She said there was increased public focus on the efforts being made to address the burden of preventable diseases.
"This conference is taking place at a time when we are being challenged to account for what we are doing towards improving the health of our people. The region's political leadership is being taken to task to point out what steps it has undertaken to address the burden of preventable diseases afflicting countries," said the CS.
Ms Kariuki observed that there was increased awareness on the part of citizens on their right to quality healthcare, saying that it was time to eliminate unethical and negligent practice by health workers.
"Citizens are increasingly claiming their right to efficient and quality medical services. We are hearing loud cries from women, children, men and the youth who are all decrying the high mortality rates from preventable deaths besides the burden of diseases," she added.