Transforming Kenya’s health system efficiency as a means of moving towards universal coverage

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, August 25, 2017 – There is high level commitment to reforming the Kenya Health System to ensure equitable access to affordable essential health services by the population thus putting the country on the path to Universal Health Coverage.

According to the Health Principal Secretary, Mr. Julius Korir the abolition of user fees in primary health care facilities by the Government in 2013 was an initial step to ensuring equitable access to care, by doing away with cost barriers to healthcare.

Speaking during the Fourth Acting On The Call (AOTC) Summit, Ministerial Conclave in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Friday, 25th August 2017, the PS revealed that out-of-pocket expenditure on health has proven to be an impediment to improving key health indicators in developing countries.

He lobbied the Ministerial Conclave which is charting the Addis Declaration on Elimination of Critical Barriers to Maternal and Child Survival to include community voices and participation in the Action Plan.

To achieve the goal of enhancing the Status of Reproductive Health for Kenyans, Mr Korir said the country has embarked on increasing equitable access to Reproductive Health Services while improving on quality, efficiency and effectiveness of service delivery at all levels.

He said the Government of Kenya initiated the Policy of Free Maternity Services (FMS), in June 2013 to increase access to Maternal and Newborn Health Services thus eliminating financial barriers to Maternal and Newborn Health Services.

“The Free Maternity Services programme which is funded from the National Budget at a cost of 4.2 billion shillings in every Financial Year, has doubled the number of women accessing skilled birth attendance from 460 000 in 2013 to over one million deliveries in 2016 thus averting over 2000 deaths of women and 30000 child deaths every year since 2013,” he noted.

He said more women are now delivering under the care of skilled health workers, while waiving maternity costs has had a positive economic impact on poor households as they spend their incomes on other family needs and investments.

The PS complemented the First Lady of Kenya Beyond Zero campaign whose aim is to eliminate preventable maternal and child deaths and eliminate mother to child transmission of HIV especially in hard to reach areas.

“Our major challenges in providing quality services and strengthening of the Health System for maternal, newborn and child health is Human Resources for Health skill mix, workload to workforce ratio and staff retention,” he added.

Despite this progress, Mr Korir revealed that the Country fell short of meeting the Millennium Development Goals targets. “We are also experiencing Health System Challenges including the double burden of Communicable and Non-Communicable Diseases and injury; a high population growth rate; high maternal and Child mortality rates of 362 per 100,000 live births and 52 per 1,000 births respectively and poverty remains an underlying factor with 46 percent of the population living in extreme poverty.

The theme of the ministerial conclave was “the challenges and solutions to overcome critical barriers to ending preventable child and maternal deaths.” The PS is leading the Kenyan delegation to the summit.