Study: Kenya’s health sector underfunded

January 31, 2017 4:02 pm
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According to the report launched Tuesday, despite significant budgetary increments by the Ministry of Health (MoH), funding for health centres remains inadequate, a situation that has led to acute shortage of health workers in some parts of the country/JEREMIAH WAKAYA

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 31 – Allocations to the health sector in Kenya have recorded a slow growth at 4.5 percent of budgetary allocations over the past 10 years, far below Abuja Declaration target of 15 percent by 2015, according to the 2017 Community Health Scorecard released by the National Taxpayers Association (NTA).

According to the report launched Tuesday, despite significant budgetary increments by the Ministry of Health (MoH), funding for health centres remains inadequate, a situation that has led to acute shortage of health workers in some parts of the country.

“In some parts of the country, you find that there are so many projects being initiated by politicians who may not necessarily liaise with MoH to know what is the vision as far as staffing and equipping the newly built health facilities is concerned,” said Irene Otieno, NTA Project Officer.

Among the four counties sampled in the report, Nakuru, Nyeri and Makueni are said to have increased allocations to the health sector relative to other sectors while Uasin Gishu’s allocations fell by about 2 percent between Financial Years 2013/14 and 2014/15.

“County governments have allocated more funds to the health sectors despite competing needs from other sectors including agriculture, water, roads and transportation,” read part of the scorecard.

The report, which takes cognizance of the Jubilee Administration’s investments in the sector which recorded a 31 percent increase in 2015 and 22 percent in 2016 attributes the deficit in funding to county government’s dependence on cash transfers from the national government with little or no income generating initiatives at the devolved units.

The study also points out a limited number of health facilities in rural areas which has impacted negatively on access to medical care by Kenyans living in far-flung areas.

“Approximately 70 percent of urban dwellers have access to health facilities within 4 kilometres compared to only 30 percent of the rural population,” read the report.

Data contained in the study indicates that Nyeri county is leading in access to health services with 42.4 health facilities per 100,000 persons, followed by Kirinyaga county (42.4 health facilities per 100,000 persons) with Lamu county coming in third (38.4 health facilities per 100,000 persons).

Among the underserved areas include Trans Nzoia county (10.4 health facilities per 100,000 persons), Busia county (9.3 health facilities per 100,000 persons), Bungoma county (9.1 health facilities 100,000 persons) and Mandera county (7.3 health facilities per 100,000 persons).

Nairobi and Mombasa counties have 18 and 27.6 health facilities per 100,000 people respectively.

According to Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), 20 percent of Kenyans (9 million) experience an illness every month with 7.8 million of these seeking medical attention at over 10,000 health facilities.

The NTA report suggests increasing budgetary allocations for health in order to ensure access to treatment.

The study also highlighted a huge disconnect between service charter editorials and actual practice as most services listed in the charters were unavailable.

Speaking during the launch of a Community Health Scorecard by the National Taxpayers Association earlier today, head of the Department of Health Standards, Quality Assurance and Regulations, Pacifica Onyancha, said there was need to provide information of availability of medical services in community health centres to enhance service delivery.

“We have gazetted the kind of services that are available at different levels of hospitals so that citizens know where to seek services,” she noted.

The report conducted between April 2015 and October 2016 reviewed Mailella and Keringet Health Centres in Nakuru, Kuinet and Chepkigen Health Centres in Uasin Gishu, Kiambara Model and Meru Health Centres in Nyeri and Mukuyuni and Kilala hospitals in Makueni.

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