NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 13 – A new public poll released on Thursday showed that almost all Kenyans were dissatisfied with the country’s healthcare system.
The survey conducted by Sauti za Mwananchi in June further indicated that 92 percent of Kenyans felt that the country’s healthcare system was in a crisis.
“The survey also shows that almost all Kenyans (92 percent) think the health sector has problems. Specifically, half (47 percent) say it has major problems and the other half (45 percent) say the problems are minor,” Sauti za Mwananchi Senior Program Officer Victor Rateng explained.
The research commissioned between June 7 and 28 pointed at inaccessibility of drugs as one of the major challenges they faced in accessing healthcare.
However, the poll showed that Kenyans were satisfied with the cleanliness of public hospitals, health worker presence, state of facilities and waiting time at the hospitals.
Their major problem were availability of drugs with 74 percent feeling that drugs were expensive and 52 percent saying the drugs were inaccessible.
Despite the widespread dissatisfaction, the survey showed that majority of Kenyans (three in every four) still relied on public health services which they found to be cheaper and more accessible than private health facilities.
“The last time they were ill or injured, 74 percent of Kenyans sought treatment from a government health facility. Very few Kenyans rely on private or NGO facilities (16 percent), chemists (8 percent) or church facilities (4 percent). Even smaller proportions of Kenyans visit herbalists (2 percent), self-medicate/use their own remedies (2 percent), go to the grocery store for medicine (1 percent) or do nothing (1 percent).”
Across the country, the poll indicated that only 33 percent of Kenyans had a health insurance cover with majority – 88 percent – depending on the NHIF cover.
Though health was devolved to the counties, the poll showed that about half of Kenyans are not aware that there are ambulances they can get when they need.
“Half of Kenyans (48 percent) do not know of an ambulance that can be called to their village/area for an emergency. Among citizens who are aware of local ambulance services available to them, 86 percent report that these are provided by the county government; 10 percent by private entities, 2 percent by non-profit/religious institutions and 1 percent by the national government.”
The survey also raised concerns over low numbers of people turning up for screening of non-communicable diseases such as cancer, high blood pressure and diabetes.
“Among Kenyan households, 42% report having a member who has been screened for blood pressure, 29% for diabetes, and 25% for any type of cancer in the past year,” Rateng explained.
According to the survey’s finding, coordination between the national and county governments was crucial especially in equipping county hospitals with diagnostic equipment and also offering long-term solutions to frequent healthcare staff strikes.
“Although the data was collected prior to some of the major strikes by health workers, the inter-related questions of motivation and accountability among health care staff will also need to be addressed.”
The survey was commissioned by Sauti za Mwananchi to interrogate the state of healthcare in the country.