As Kenya commemorates the 60th Mashujaa Day celebrations, the nation is taking a significant step towards achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) for all her citizens.
The UHC program, which has been in existence previously, is now being reinvigorated with a renewed focus on preventive and promotive healthcare services to ensure every Kenyan has access to quality health care without financial hardship.
Initially launched in 2018, the UHC program stagnated at the piloting stage, and its full implementation failed to materialize due to financial constraints, forcing health care experts and stakeholders to return to the drawing board.
Dr Salim Hussein, Head of the Department of Primary Health Care at the Ministry of Health, asserts that Primary Health Care Networks (PCNs) has been identified as a key component in the implementation of UHC.
Through PCNs, Dr Hussein explains that a level 4 facility will support Level 3, 2 and 1 facilities, where health care officers will pool their expertise to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of promotive health services.
PCNs will also seek to coordinate care by integrating primary health and public health care.
“The Primary Health Care Networks will ensure health services are available at the local level. This system will spend money to a minimum, for every shilling we put into work we will be helping to reduce the loss of Ksh16,” Hussein opines.
Community Health Promoters (CHPs) will also play a key role in the realization of UHC, following the unveiling of 100,000 community health promoter kits by President William Ruto in September.
The CHPs will use the equipment provided in the kits to support healthy behaviors and disease prevention at the community level.
Additionally, the CHPs will collect health data from households using a smartphone, which will be relayed to the Ministry of Health, where experts will be able to assess health status of Kenyans across the country.
The CHPs have also been trained on how to identify danger signs and refer those in dire need of medical services to a health facility with each promoter responsible for serving 100 homes.
“Community health promoters have an understanding of local dynamics either cultural or social-economic, an aspect that may lack in health professionals. The CHPs have been trained to understand key messages around different health issues to improve overall knowledge and health in the community,” says Dr Maureen Kimani, the Head Community Health, Ministry of Health.
However, Dr Kimani clarifies that the CHPs are not health professionals, but the Ministry of Health has trained them on the basic issues on health promotion.
“Every group of 10 CHPs is under the supervision of Community health professional trained at the KMTC,” adds Dr Kimani.