Preventive care now top priority as State unveils universal healthcare

Ms Mary Kamau, the Director of Nursing Services at the Nairobi Hospital, speaks at the hospital during an event to mark this year's International Handwashing Day and International Infection Prevention Week, on October 19, 2023. [Photo, Courtesy]

For weeks, she said, Nairobi Hospital was on a journey pushing for the uptake of handwashing as part of events to mark this year's International Handwashing Day, marked on October 15, and the International Infection Prevention Week (IIPW) on October 15 - 21.

"The International Handwashing Day was launched in Sweden in 2008 during a drive that saw at least 120 million children in 70 countries wash their hands with water and soap. The campaign was launched after it became clear washing hands was key in preventing infections," said Kamau.

Effective handwashing takes several steps targeting the palm of the hand, back of the hands, fingertips, thumbs and wrist, before one can rinse their hands with clean water.

As part of activities to mark the IIPW, Nairobi Hospital, under the theme "Celebrating the Fundamentals of Infection Prevention", lined up various activities.

A team from Nairobi Hospital, led by Deputy Director of Nursing Jemimah Wanjiru, visited Donholm Primary School in Nairobi, where it took learners and teachers through various ways of preventing diseases, which included handwashing and sanitising.

Ms Wanjiru said their focus has shifted to prevention, "because it is the easiest way to cure diseases".

"Infection prevention may sound so simple but it is not. But when well executed, these measures have proved to prevent diseases and even death," Wanjiru said.

IIPW also serves to remind healthcare professionals and the public of the role everyone plays in the prevention of infections.

The hospital is also championing increased uptake of the cholera, pneumonia and Covid-19 vaccines as part of its CSR programme.

Ms Jemimah Wanjiru, the Deputy Director of Nursing Services at Nairobi Hospital, during an event to mark this year's International Handwashing Day and the International Infection Prevention Week at Donholm Primary School in Nairobi, on Thursday, October 19, 2023. [Photo, Courtesy]

He said his administration has a special focus on community health - simple health services delivered by laymen outside hospitals. He said the provision of quality health services is a major pillar of Kenya Kwanza's Bottom-up economic agenda.

Community health, a subset of public health, is at the centre of Ruto's plan to deliver quality healthcare, with CHPs having been given a prominent role in this drive.

"Unlike before, we have decided to start paying CHPs a stipend and provide them with the necessary equipment, including smartphones. Each CHP will be in charge of 100 homes in their localities," Ruto said, adding the central government will share the burden of paying CHPs with counties on a 50/50 basis.

"I am happy to note one million households in 10 counties have already been visited by CHPs, who have captured their data that will come in handy in planning and resource allocation," the President said even as he commissioned 100,000 CHPs.

"The national government has already set aside Sh3 billion for that programme. We expect counties to provide their own part of the contribution to the plan," said Ruto adding that he has already signed four new laws he is confident will massively improve Kenya's healthcare system.

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