Kenya launches health for all campaign
By Henry Neondo(ASNS),
Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Health has Monday launched the universal health for all campaign in Nairobi and noted challenges to realize the vision. According to James Macharia, it is a daunting task to achieve universal health coverage in developing countries such as Kenya due to financial constraints and the over-reliance on direct payments at the time people need care.
“Kenyan people do not have the culture of prepaying for health. They would rather wait until when they get admission before they begin hustling for money to take care of the hospitalization bills,” said Dr Elzabeth Ogacha, County Executive Committee of Health, Kisumu County.
Thus, adds Macharia prevents millions of people from receiving care when they need it.
According to Macharia, poverty remains one of the greatest challenges in achieving equity in health. It is estimated that about 46 per cent of Kenyans live below one US dollar and 19 per cent of these constitute the country’s poorest of the poor.
Yet, the poorest bear the greatest burden of diseases as they do not give health care priority leaving many to fall victims to frequent infections and high deaths from treatable diseases.
Experts at the launch however say achieving universal health coverage will not a mean feat for the country to realize.
“Only 10 per cent of Kenyan population is under some form of health insurance scheme and even those covered are never assured of quality service when they happen to visit health care facility when they have access,” said Dr Victor Nganyi, Chairman, Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentist Union.
The Kenya Economic Report 2013 show that only five in ten Kenyans access a health facility within a 5km radius, most have to travel long distances with some covering 100 km on poorly maintained roads or footpaths.
“Only 32 per cent of Kenyans live in areas where infrastructure for communication and health services is developed. Majority have to trek on footpaths, rough roads or roads full of potholes”.
According to Dr Nganyi there is also the perennial problem of low human resource in the country. Statistics from the Ministry of Health show that Kenyans have on average 16 doctors and 153 nurses per 100, 000 populations. This is against the WHO recommended minimum staffing levels of 36 doctors and 356 nurses.
The Kenya Economic Report of 2013 show that majority of health workers are concentrated in hospitals while other health centres and dispensaries are heavily under staffed.
The ministry of health says that financing for health consumes only 2 per cent of the GDP…this is a far cry from the 15 per cent suggested by the Abuja Declaration of 2001.
Jonathan Quck, President and CEO, Management Science for Health, currently 55 nations globally have subscribed to health for all.