GENEVA, May 27 – Thailand, which has successfully implemented Universal Health Coverage (UHC), will assist with both technical and training expertise to enable Kenya achieve her UHC, Cabinet Secretary of Health Sicily Kariuki has announced.
Kariuki said Thailand Minister of Health, Prof. Emeritus Piyasakol, will be sending experts to support local teams to design the UHC benefit package as well as the review of our existing institutional architecture to better deliver on the promise of UHC.
“Thailand has also offered internship opportunities and scholarships for the health experts from Kenya to learn first-hand from the Thai experience on UHC implementation capabilities”, she said at the conclusion of the 71st World Health Assembly held in Geneva, Switzerland.
Similarly, she added, the World Health Organisation Director General, Dr Tedros Adhanom, has pledged to provide both technical and financial support towards the design of Kenya’s UHC benefit package and in the implementation of an effective community health strategy.
Kariuki said it had become clear from Thailand experience that increased resources in the health sector is vital while ensuring the efficient utilization of the available resources.
She said to this end, the government intends to scale up access of health services for the poor and vulnerable through the Health Insurance Subsidies program and the Elderly program for older peers.
“Indeed, the assembly has reiterated on the need for countries to increase their prioritization of health in their budgets, and to aim for affordable universal coverage,” she said.
The CS also announced that her ministry will start strengthening Primary Health Care (PHC) and preventive and promotive health as the best way to make good progress on UHC.
“We shall use community health volunteers, in terms of approach, to strengthen PHC and invest heavily on the frontline workforce, leveraging on technology to increase efficiency and make progress, “she said.
Kariuki said countries with well-functioning PHC programs like Cuba, Thailand and Brazil have better health outcomes at low cost. With UHC in the ‘Big Four’ social economic agendas, and equitable distribution of resources through the devolution of health services, the country now has what it takes to show that comprehensive PHC is the best path towards achieving the goal of Health for All.
She said emphasis has been on curative health care for a long time, which is not only expensive but often inaccessible to majority of Kenyans. She added that majority of the health workers and specialists who offer curative services are concentrated in urban areas.
“Currently three counties in Kenya do not have any medical specialist. Furthermore, in view of the WHO’s recommendation of 1 doctor per 1,000 population, Kenya has an absolute deficit of 40,332 Doctors.”
In tackling UHC, she said, her ministry will also address issues of staff shortages and their skills and competencies to manage PHC. The ministry, she said will ensure supply and availability essential medicines and supplies, improve the referral system, provide equipment and improve infrastructure.
Kariuki said: “overall, our aim is to improve people’s experience with the healthcare system, improve the health of the general population and equity, reduce cost of care and restore joy and satisfaction in the practice of primary care.”