The Cabinet Secretary for Health in Kenya, Mrs Sicily Kariuki, has appealed to development partners to support the Government in mapping out how to achieve Universal Health Coverage in the context of a growing burden of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs).
“The government of Kenya has already put in place a number of strategies and programmes to fast-track the achievement of UHC. This includes scaling up health insurance enrolment through, among others, the use of community-based approaches; investing in infrastructure and leveraging technological innovations,” she said.
Speaking during a Stakeholders’ Workshop on NCDs held in Naivasha this week, Kariuki proposed leveraging on Community Health Workers to drive the preventive approach in dealing with NCDs since cost of treatment far outweighs that of prevention.
“There has been progress towards addressing NCDs in Kenya. The Ministry of Health has developed key policies, legislation and strategic documents to guide the fight against NCDs in the country,” she said.
The CS also launched the Integrated Delivery of Care for NCDs Kenya Country Initiative; a guideline that adopts a multi-sectoral approach towards combating NCDs that will be piloted in Trans-Nzoia, Uasin Gishu and Busia Counties over the next three years.
NCDs account for over 50% of hospital admissions and over 55% of deaths in Kenya.
The conference brought together health professionals, top government officials, political leaders, development partners and other key stakeholders to promote dialogue on preventing and controlling NCDs and to explore strategies for mainstreaming the NCD agenda into Kenya’s broader plans towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
Amref Health Africa’s Group CEO Dr Githinji Gitahi and co-chair of the global UHC2030 challenged leaders in the public health sector to take leadership in advancing UHC in the country. “If we want achieve UHC, the public sector have to lead, private sector alone will not lead to UHC.”
Dr Gitahi urged health facilities to provide comprehensive care that includes NCDs.
“Health facilities should have an integrated approach whereby when people go to a clinic say for HIV, they also get hypertension screening. Vertical programming should be stopped. Integration will increase retention in care through reduced appointment frequency, and reduce neglect of other health needs that often are ignored through vertical programme implementation.” he said.
A team from Amref Enterprise Limited showcased the use of the Leap platform in health worker training and m-Jali in community health data collection with a focus on NCDs. Delegates were also told about Amref’s e- learning platform and NCD courses offered.
Amref Health Africa in Kenya has implemented several project aimed at decreasing the burden of NCDs with a focus on hypertension, asthma and cancer. The organisation is currently implementing the AstraZeneca-funded Healthy Heart Africa project in five counties (Nairobi, Nakuru, Kirinyanga, Kiambu and Kajiado), using m-Jali and Leap to enrol hypertension patients and to improve linkage to care and retention. So far, the project has screened more than 250,000 people for hypertension, 8,000 of whom have started treatment, and screened 1,588 women for breast cancer.
Other NCD-related projects being implemented by Amref in Kenya include the Cancer Advocacy Project, and an initiative to train 2,500 health workers on prevention, control and management of diabetes and childhood asthma funded by GlaxoSmithKline.
Photos and Story by Maureen Cherongis.