Leaders from the private sector, non-governmental organizations and the government, while speaking during the Africa Social and Behaviour Conference that was recently held in Nairobi, pushed for radical changes in the health sector in order for Kenya to achieve universal health coverage (UHC) goals. The push comes at a time when the government has launched universal health coverage pilot projects in Kisumu, Isiolo, Nyeri and Machakos counties.
While the initiative is supposed to enhance access to healthcare services among Kenyans, there have been some misconceptions and misrepresentations on its purpose. Undoubtedly, there is a critical need for various players in the health sector to invest adequate resources in a bid to realize a sustainable universal health coverage agenda. Some of the challenges facing the realization of this noble agenda include:
- Lack of policy around data collection in disease preference at the county level;
- lack of an adequate universal health coverage policy;
- dishonesty among healthcare stakeholders;
- inadequate investment in healthcare workers and infrastructure;
- minimal social inclusion and public participation in the decision making process.
Addressing the conference, the Chairperson of the Parliamentary Health Committee, Hon. Sabina Chege, noted: “The main challenge in Kenya is the issue of data collection which is not up to date. On the legislative end, we are working with the Ministry of Health to ensure that we have a UHC policy in place. As we start the current budget making process, we want it to be user driven. We shall also have a dialogue with health facilities, especially the national ones to able to determine what the common mwananchi needs in terms of health services.” There was also a call for the need to address the issue of health financing afresh during the conference.
Kenya needs to put close attention to the critical changes in healthcare in order to meet the needs of her growing population. Despite increasing investments in the sector, there is insignificant provision of high-quality healthcare services that will lead to the realization of the universal health coverage goals.