, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 6 – The government has set aside Sh2 billion to support community health strategies through the procurement of motorcycles and bicycles for community extension health workers and community health workers respectively.
Public Health and Sanitation Minister Beth Mugo said on Monday that the funds would also be used to recruit nurses and hiring of ambulances to support the referral system.
She said that the initiative aims at sensitising the public at the grassroots level on the benefits of health facilities and seeks to bring facilities closer to them.
"A public health worker will be assigned several households which he or she will take care of. She will get a bicycle and then she will take health messages to these households," she said.
"For example, if she finds the baby having diarrhoea, she is able to tell the mother that this is the cause of diarrhoea and this is how we should prevent it. Wash your hands with soap," she stated.
Mrs Mugo was speaking during the first Kenya Community Health Services Convention whose aim is aligning the ministry’s goals with the country\’s Vision 2030.
"Public health has been hailed as the cornerstone of health in any nation and our Vision 2030 has also identified public health as the torch bearer for health in this country," the Public Health Minister said. "Therefore, this public health strategy takes health right up to every household."
She said that the strategy\’s main thrust was to actively engage the communities in managing their own health thereby improving health indicators through the implementation of key interventions at the community level.
"This is in line with the Essential Health Package that focuses on the individual and the household as the basic unit for the provision of equitable health care," she stated.
She further explained that the overall goal of the initiative was to enhance community access to health care in order to improve productivity thus reducing poverty, hunger, child and maternal deaths.
A recent report indicated that Kenya is currently losing more than 7,000 women annually, a rate of 21 daily, to pregnancy related complications.
About eleven million African women could be saved in the next five years if life saving interventions are made available, the report went on to state.
The report, Partnership for Maternal Newborn and Child Health and the Countdown to 2015, estimated that scaling up antenatal and emergency care at the time of birth will cost an additional Sh640 per person annually.
According to the report, this achievement would bring most African countries in line with UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 4 and 5, which call for reducing deaths among children under five by two thirds, and maternal deaths by three-quarters by 2015.
The report further found that 49 of the 68 high burden countries are not on track to meeting the fourth MDG on child health.
At least 39 of the 49 countries that are not on track to achieve the goal are in Sub-Saharan Africa, and that progress has not been sufficient to meet the fifth goal.
Kenya\’s high rate of maternal deaths has remained unchanged for almost seven years.
More than half of Kenyan women prefer to deliver at home under the care of unskilled attendants, hence the high number of deaths.
Africa, with 11 percent of the world\’s population, accounts for more than half of its maternal and child deaths, 85 per cent of malaria cases and 72 percent of HIV and Aids-related deaths.