Kericho's new technology to boost health services and realisation of UHC

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua presents an upgrade certificate to Kericho Governor Erick Mutai following the elevation of Kericho Level Five Hospital at Kapkatet Stadium on October 16. Looking on is Health Cabinet Secretary Susan Nakhumincha. [Nikko Tanui, Standard]

The county government of Kericho has unveiled a new system that is set to transform the provision of health services through the digitisation of data.

The local government has developed a system dubbed; Smart Primary Health Care Network that collects, using the latest technology. The system collects, stores and disseminates health data, and avails it when needed for decision-making.

The system comes amid efforts by the Kenya Kwanza government to roll out Universal Health Coverage (UHC), which aims at ensuring all people have access to the full range of quality health services they need, when and where they need them, without financial hardship.

UHC covers all the essential health services, from health promotion to prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, and palliative care across the life course.

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua has lauded the county administration for the new technology he said will revolutionise healthcare.

Mr Gachagua, who spoke during the opening of the UHC Pre-Mashujaa Conference week at Kapkatet stadium in Kericho, re-affirmed the determination of President William Ruto's government to improve healthcare by adopting the latest health technology and innovations.

The DP stressed the need to integrate digital technology as a tool to power universal health coverage.

“It is a great occasion to witness the potential of Kericho County's Smart Primary Health Care Network. It will redefine how we work and serve our people,” Gachagua said.

He added: “The Primary Healthcare Network tool, which Kericho County is integrating into its healthcare system, will progressively contribute to data collection on various diseases and other medical conditions”.

The data, he said, is crucial in strategic and targeted planning, more so in resource allocation as the government banks to reap from preventive health interventions.

Health CS Susan Nakhumicha said the digitalisation of the healthcare system will create visibility for the Ministry of Health.

"Digitalisation is helping us with health commodities management. You were able to see items at Level 3 facility, we saw the items at the sub-county...we shall see the movement of products," said Ms Nakhumicha.

The CS reaffirmed four main pillars to deliver UHC, among them commodity security, which will ensure an effective supply of medical commodities.

"We want to ensure that if a Kenyan walks into a facility, he will be given the drugs. We have the capacity to build Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa) to increase facility fill rate," said the CS.

Kerugoya Hospital General Surgeon Dr Jack Kamau (left) greets President William Ruto following the launch of the facility on June 13, 2023. [Mose Sammy, Standard]

The fill rate at Kemsa before Kenya Kwanza took over, according to the CS, ranged between 40 and 50 per cent. "This has gradually increased to 70 per cent and is headed to 100 per cent in the next six months," the CS said.

The second pillar, according to the CS, is on human resources for health. "You can have all the equipment and a perfect building, but if you don't have health workers, it doesn't work. We shall also be discussing how best we can have motivated health workers and how we manage them," said the Health CS.

She said the newly inaugurated Health Advisory Council will help revamp human resources in the health sector.

Other pillars are digitalisation and Social Health Insurance, which will enable each Kenyan to access quality healthcare without suffering financial loss.

The government has pumped Sh141.2 billion into the Ministry of Health, with at least Sh18.4 billion going into UHC.

During the conference that has brought together health experts and stakeholders, Gachagua emphasised the importance of community health promoters in boosting healthcare.

“I wish to commend the community health promoters who have been engaged for this assignment. You are our heroes. We cannot pay you enough for the splendid work you are already undertaking," Gachagua said, adding; "Once again, we count on your utmost dedication to deliver to Kenyans, the promise of UHC.”

The government allocated less than five per cent of its budget to health. However, Gachagua said plans are underway to meet and exceed the minimum target of 15 per cent of the national budget for the health sector as per the Abuja Declaration.

The Abuja Declaration sought to secure a commitment of at least 15 per cent of the national budget for the health sector even though this target has proven elusive for many countries.

Further, the DP said President Ruto’s administration is keen on promoting preventive healthcare at the grassroots, in partnership with counties. He said this will be boosted by the ongoing reforms at the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF).

Quality healthcare, the Deputy President said, is expensive for most families, with a larger percentage sinking into abject poverty due to failure to raise funds to seek care.

Data has revealed that only 26 per cent of Kenyans have some form of health insurance.

“When a serious medical condition strikes, poverty is inevitable for most families. Poverty strips off one’s dignity. This in turn slows development,” he said.

Under the proposed Social Health Insurance bill, which will change the National Health Insurance Fund to the Social Health Authority, every Kenyan is expected to contribute to the kitty.

Though President Ruto noted a 2.7 per cent monthly contribution fee, the bill will be regulated and tariffs set.

The proposed bill will be signed by President Ruto into law, ahead of the official launch of UHC on October 20, in Kericho.

Further, October being a cancer awareness month, the leaders and experts pleaded with Kenyans to undertake screening for early detection of the disease and treatment.