Delivering on the promise: Towards a healthy nation
Whereas there is still ground to be covered, the government is making good its health promise to Kenyans and is committed to achieving Universal Health Coverage as well as other national and international health targets. The ultimate goal of achieving hig
Health is inseparable from human development. The development of a nation depends on the health and well-being of its people. Many international declarations and commitments attest to this as is well amplified in the United Nations millennium goals which Kenya has undertaken to achieve.
The great health challenges of today – among them infant, child, and maternal mortality, malaria, HIV, and NCDs – all impact on the capacity of people to survive and thrive. Advancing better health is a gateway to development progress. And development progress is a gateway to improving health.
Since, independence Kenya has steadily worked to improve the health of its 40 plus million people, more than half of whom live in rural areas. However, the economic crisis of the 1980s coupled with the HIV/AIDS pandemic in the 90s decade aggravated the limitations Kenya faced in providing quality care across the population.
These limitations included providing health care services to geographically dispersed populations; ensuring access to health care providers in critical regions and securing appropriate financing to sustain and increase the health care infrastructure at the national and county levels.
PERSISTENTLY HIGH LEVELS OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES
Along with tackling persistently high levels of infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, and malaria, Kenya has seen an increased prevalence of chronic illnesses such as diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular diseases.
In 1994, the Government produced the Kenya Health Policy Framework paper which set forth a vision of providing ‘’Quality health care that is acceptable, affordable and accessible to all’’ in the country by 2010.
Our healthcare system has evolved with the changing needs of the population. The Health Policy, the Constitution of Kenya and Vision 2030 serves as our roadmap towards increasing accessibility, improving quality and enhancing affordability of healthcare for all Kenyans.
To reduce the disease burden and eliminate geographic and financial barriers to accessing health services by Kenyans, the National Treasury has consistently increased funding for the health sector to support innovative projects which are currently transforming lives across the 47 counties.
Through the Health Policy the Government is committed to the principle of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) by diversifying financing options that include progressive elimination of out of pocket expenditure; especially for marginalized and indigent populations and providing essential basic health services to its citizenry.
Our healthcare financing system, comprising subsidies; elimination of user fee in primary health care facilities; the Free Maternity Services and the Managed Equipment Service (MES) project, has helped keep healthcare affordable, especially for the lower and middle income Kenyan, while ensuring sustainability in the long term.
Through the Kshs. 38 billion Managed Equipment Service Project (Tiba Mashinani), Kenyans are enjoying access to uninterrupted, quality specialized health services in 47 counties and 4 national referral hospitals regardless of their location within the country. To date we have installed 144 digital anesthetic machines in 85 hospitals, 129 digital sterilization machines in 95 hospitals,55 Intensive Care Unit beds in three public hospitals,28 High Dependency Unit beds public hospitals, 94 digital x-ray systems in 94 public hospitals and 48 digital mammography units in public hospitals in addition to 174 dialysis machines in 26 hospitals. The dialysis capacity has been enhanced by 522 sessions per day across the country. Indeed, specialized diagnostic and treatment services have been devolved closer to the wananchi and in the near future, Kenyans will no longer need to travel abroad for specialized treatment.
KMTC HAS DEVELOPED 56 NEW CAMPUSES IN 37 COUNTIES
To increase human resources for health the KMTC has developed 56 new campuses in 37 counties up from 31 campuses in 25 counties, increasing student enrollment to 40%. This is a major step in empowering young people acquire clinical skills as well as promote equity in access to medical education opportunities. We endeavour to have KMTC footprints in every county.
These efforts to improve healthcare, undertaken since 2013, have also contributed to major improvements in child and maternal health indicators. Deaths of children below five years of age mortality have declined from 74 to 52 per 1000 live births and infant deaths from 52 to 39 per 1000 live births. In addition, maternal deaths have come down from 488 to 362 deaths per 100,000 live births translating to 2,000 mothers saved from pregnancy and child birth related death annually. Through the Free Maternity Services programme, we have doubled deliveries in health facilities from 600,323 in 2013 to 1.2 million in 2016 and increased primary healthcare utilization from 69% in the financial year 2013/2014 to 77% in 2015/2016 as a result of foregone user fees.
Similar improvements have been made in HIV/AIDS that is currently stabilizing at below 6 per cent. Because of distribution of 14 million arthemether – combination therapy (ACT) doses, and 12.6 million long lasting insecticide treated mosquito nets (LLINs), the number of households owning treated bed nets has increased to 63% from 44% leading to a drop of malaria prevalence from 14 percent in 2010 to 8 percent in 2015.
REDUCE SPENDING AND INCREASE ACCESS TO HEALTH SERVICES
Through NHIF, we endeavour to reduce catastrophic spending and increase access to health services to previously marginalized health populations. Through the Health Insurance Subsidy Programme for the Poor (HISP) and the Health Insurance Subsidy for Older Persons & Persons with Severe Disabilities many Kenyan’s are now enjoying access to both Inpatient and Outpatient covers, quality services due to reduced out of pocket spending and improved health insurance coverage from 14 million)in 2013 to 21.3 million in 2016. This commitment towards Universal Health Coverage represents a large shift for the citizens of Kenya.
NHIF is also expanding medical cover to include Non-communicable diseases, in particular the introduction of the Chronic Illness Care Package, covering hypertension, CT scan, Renal Dialysis, MRI, cancer, diabetes and Rehabilitation.
To ensure Kenyans get access to affordable quality healthcare we have introduced professional fee and advertisement regulation for doctors and dentists and have also adopted mobile applications for the public toverify registration status of the Medical and Pharmacy practitioners.
Whereas there is still ground to be covered, the government is making good its health promise to Kenyans and is committed to achieving Universal Health Coverage as well as other national and international health targets.
The ultimate goal of achieving high quality of care will require strong partnerships between the national and county governments, development partners and the private sector.
Mother and baby at a Kenyan hospital/