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Kenya needs a health service commission for coordination, oversight

Health & Science

Kenya has struggled to provide quality healthcare services to all its citizens, particularly those living in rural areas. Despite the devolution of healthcare to county governments, the health system has remained fragmented and uneven. To address this issue, there is a growing need for a national health service commission that can oversee the provision of healthcare services.

The devolution of healthcare in Kenya was intended to bring healthcare services closer to the people and improve responsiveness. While some counties have made progress, many others have struggled to provide basic services. County governments have limited capacity to manage complex healthcare systems that require significant resources and expertise.

The devolution of healthcare has led to fragmentation, with different counties adopting different policies and strategies. This has led to a lack of standardisation, making it difficult to achieve universal healthcare.

A health service commission can help to address these challenges by providing the necessary coordination and oversight. The commission would be responsible for developing and implementing national policies and strategies, ensuring that all citizens have access to quality and affordable services. It would also be responsible for the recruitment, training, and deployment of workers, ensuring that there is an adequate and well-trained workforce in place to meet the needs of the population.

It is important to note that the need for a commission does not imply that devolved healthcare should be abandoned altogether. County governments can continue to play a crucial role in the provision of healthcare services, particularly at the primary healthcare level.

However, a commission would be responsible for providing the necessary coordination and oversight to ensure that all citizens have access to quality and affordable healthcare services.

In conclusion, the establishment of a health service commission in Kenya is crucial to achieving universal healthcare. Universal healthcare is a policy goal that seeks to provide access to quality healthcare for all citizens, regardless of their income level.

According to the World Bank, Kenya spends only 5 per cent of its GDP on healthcare, compared to the global average of 9 per cent.

The lack of adequate funding has led to a shortage of healthcare workers in the country. This is particularly acute in rural areas, where there are few healthcare facilities and even fewer healthcare workers.

According to the World Health Organization, there are only 0.2 physicians and 1.1 nurses and midwives per 1,000 population in Kenya, compared to the global average of 1.5 physicians and 3.0 nurses and midwives.

Devolved healthcare has not been able to provide consistent and high-quality services to all citizens, and a national commission would provide the necessary coordination and oversight to address this challenge.

The writer is the National Secretary General of KMPDU - Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union

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