Stakeholders buoyant as the 18th health sector intergovernmental consultative forum is held


The 18th health sector intergovernmental consultative forum opened on Thursday amid renewed optimism that the country is on course towards realizing its health agenda.
The two-day forum dubbed “Beyond COVID-19 to Achieve Universal Health Coverage” brings together health sector managers from national and county governments, the Public Service Commission, the national treasury and development partners to share experiences in managing devolved health services.
Speaking in Naivasha while opening the two-day forum, Health Chief Administrative Secretary Dr. Rashid Aman said the meeting marked yet another important milestone in Kenya’s journey of implementing health policies jointly developed under a devolved system of governance.
“In particular, this forum is timely as it allows the National Government and County Governments to look at the progress made in the implementation of the health agenda and especially in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. Importantly, this, coming shortly after the 7th Annual Devolution Conference, offers us an excellent opportunity to reflect on emerging health issues affecting all of us.” Observed the Health CAS.
This even as he challenged county administrations, to continue championing for strict implementation of Public Health and Social Measures including proper use of face masks, social distancing, handwashing or use of hand sanitizers at all times while remaining on high alert.
“I call on our colleagues at the Counties and our Development partners to come in strongly at the grassroots in mobilizing eligible unvaccinated members of the public to show up and get themselves and their families vaccinated and thus protected from the dangers of COVID-19.” Dr. Rashid urged the forum.
He called on those attending the forum to prioritize issues on Human Resources for Health, Health Products and Technologies, service delivery, research and innovation, as well as have a look at what the Ministry in consultation with counties and other stakeholders have developed to guide the implementation of the Universal Health Coverage.
Addressing the forum, Acting Director General for health Dr. Patrick Amoth said discovery of the Omicron variant presents the world with a new challenge with at least 18 countries having already detected the variant since it was first identified and reported on 24th of November this year.
“Preliminary evidence suggests high transmissibility and an increased risk of re-infection with this variant, as compared to other variants of concern” Observed Dr. Amoth.
To slow its spread, the acting Director General called for continued adherence to all the Public Health Social Measures, ramping up of Covid-19 vaccination, enforcement of Public Health and Social Measures as well as enhanced vigilance and preparedness.
National Taskforce on Vaccine Deployment Chairperson Dr. Willis Akhwale said vaccinations remain key in building a herd immunity among the population. According to Akhwale, Kenya will have received at least 25 million Covid-19 vaccine doses by the end of the year with the country now having already commenced mass vaccinations.
“Even with the emergence of variants, vaccines have continued to offer protection. 95 percent of current admissions in the country are the unvaccinated with statistics indicating that the unvaccinated shed more viruses than the vaccinated.” Observed Akhwale.
While acknowledging that the Health Sector Intergovernmental Consultative Forum is a critical pillar in ensuring 
quality service delivery within Kenya’s devolved health system, Dr. Juliet Nabyonga, the WHO Kenya representative, said her organization remains committed to collaborate with the government in furthering the attainment of the twin agenda of achieving Universal Health Coverage and Strengthening Health Security
“Indeed, our deliberations in this forum need to discuss how the national government and counties can continue to roll out response interventions including delivery of vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics and to sustain the capacity to prevent, mitigate so that such a tragedy like COVID-19 does not have to re-occur.” She said
Acting Director of Health Sector Coordination and Intergovernmental Relations at the ministry of health Dr. Joseph Lenai told the forum that continued engagement among stakeholders remain key in addressing emerging issues requiring intergovernmental consultations. Lenai observing that such engagements remain central in enhancing structured dialogue on health issues.
The health sector intergovernmental consultative forum, which brings together the Ministry of Health and County Departments for Health in the spirit of mutual cooperation between the two levels of Government as envisaged in the Constitution and the Intergovernmental Relations Act of 2012 has over the years since the inception of devolution, played a crucial role for structured dialogue on health matters through cooperation, collaboration, consultation, concurrence, consensus, communication and commitment between the two levels of governments.