REPUBLIC OF KENYA

Health CS roots for adoption of ICT in the health sector

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe is advocating for a paradigm shift in the training of the country’s healthcare professionals to enhance their global competitiveness.
Speaking at the Kenya Medical Training College, Nairobi campus during the launch of the English language training programme for nurses, Kagwe said the scaling up of training must not only aim to increase the number of health workers but also address the question of quality service.
“Kenya is no longer training a workforce just for Kenya. We are training a workforce for the region, we are also training a workforce for the international community. Demographics across the world have created opportunities that perhaps we never anticipated.” Said Kagwe.
He clarified that the government is not planning to send healthcare workers to work abroad at the expense of the country’s health system saying the arrangement is only meant to create employment opportunities for those who fail to get openings in the country.
“We are not sending health workers to the UK at the expense of our health system. We are hiring doctors, nurses in accordance with our ability to do so as a government. It is the extra workers we are trying to create opportunities for.” Explained Kagwe.
Observing that the world is moving towards digital health, the health CS said the Kenyan government is revolutionising the health sector to ensure that health facilities embrace ICT in their operations.
He said there was a need for holistic training to ensure that patients especially in public facilities enjoy competitive and best available care of service.
“The qualifications in private and public hospital is the same, the difference is the service. It is more of non-clinical issues. The service in government hospitals must improve in terms of customer service and non-clinical issues” said the CS.
Kagwe said the planned Health workforce conference on Harmonization of the Curriculum and Training of Health Professionals set to be held in Mombasa from 7th to 9th of February, and which will draw participation from 99 countries, will seek to address the future of health workers.
He said the government remains committed to supporting young Kenyan professionals get the best training and related opportunities with global demographics having created new prospects.
“This is the first time ever that we as a government have undertaken a training of this kind where we are preparing our young people to go and work elsewhere oversees. Indeed, to prepare them in their pre-departure training to create a workforce that is internationally able, internationally qualified and internationally recognised” added the Health CS.
Kagwe said the government remains committed to reforming the health sector in an effort to enhance quality of service as well as substantially bring down the cost of healthcare in the country.
“We must harmonise and standardise the cost of medical procedures appreciating that there is a government that has subsidized services and a private sector that has to survive because of other aspects” he quipped.
He said the ongoing reforms at the national Health Insurance Fund were meant to sustain the gains registered in recent years besides ensuring that every Kenyan accesses quality and affordable healthcare.

“We have pushed NHIF contracting negotiations to the end of March as the deadline had lapsed in January. We realised that we needed a lot more stakeholder’s engagement in order to have an appropriate contracting agreement between the National Health Insurance Fund and healthcare providers in line with the NHIF Act.”Observed the CS.
Speaking at the same event, Deputy British High Commissioner to Kenya Josephine Gauld
said the current collaboration between Kenya and the UK stems from a bilateral health partnership agreement signed in January 2021 aimed at strengthening collaboration between the two nations. The agreement seeks to explore new opportunities to working together to improve the health and well-being of respective citizens. Among other things, the agreement aims to strengthen the capacity of the Kenyan health system to deliver universal health coverage and end preventable deaths of mothers and children.
Following on the initial agreement, the two countries signed another memorandum of understanding on health workforce collaboration in July last year focusing on enhancing the capacity of health workers and health managers as well as improving collaboration between training institutions in the two countries. It also provides an opening for qualified and unemployed nurses to access employment opportunities in the UK’s National Health Service.