KIAMBU COUNTY, 9th July 2022 (PSCU) – President Uhuru Kenyatta has underscored the importance of well-trained health workers in the delivery of the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) pillar of the Big 4 Agenda.
The President emphasized that skilled human resource is a key building block in the health system that should not be overlooked in catering for the country’s health needs.
“The latest technology and modern medicines are futile if the human element is sub-standard. In the delivery of the services to individuals and communities, whether preventive or curative, it is critical to have skilled, equipped, adequately supported and well-trained health workers.
“Indeed, the success of our efforts to attain Universal Health Coverage (UHC) is largely dependent on the availability of a health workforce endowed with the right skill-sets and supported by the delivery of accessible and affordable healthcare for all,” President Kenyatta said.
The Head of State spoke on Saturday when he presided over the ground-breaking ceremony for the construction of the AMREF International University (AMIU) campus at the Ruiru Northlands in Kiambu County.
President Kenyatta said while the Covid-19 pandemic slowed down the progress of UHC in the country by straining the health system, it did not stop the efforts geared towards its attainment.
At the same time, the President pointed out that Africa’s socio-economic success in the post-Covid-19 times must be anchored on the recovery of its health system which relies heavily on the health workforce.
“…for that reason, there is a need for increased investment in training and policy reforms within the sector to make up for the lost ground,” the President said.
He noted that Africa faces an acute shortage of health workers compared to other regions despite the continent having 25% of the world’s illness burden, according to the Word Health Organization (WHO) estimates.
“This large deficit has created a pressing need for at least one million community health workers and 350,000 midwives in sub-Saharan Africa, just to achieve the critical minimum levels.
“It is also worth noting that millions more existing health workers lack the necessary support, equipment and the training required to make them fit for purpose to deliver on their mandate,” the Head of State said.
President Kenyatta pointed out that Africa’s shortage of health workers has constrained nations from adequately responding to pandemics such as Covid-19, achieving health equity and meeting population health needs.
In this regard, the President said the Government has put in place a raft of measures including fully supporting the operationalization of community health services as a platform for delivery of primary health care and UHC.
Other measures include the establishment of progressive frameworks for improved industrial relations between national and county governments and health workers’ unions as well as the absorption of community health workers (CHWs) into the mainstream health system.
Similarly, the President stated the Government’s commitment to increasing domestic financing for community health as part of the efforts to boost primary healthcare.
President Kenyatta commended the AMREF International University fraternity for its ambitious expansion plan to scale up training for health workers in Kenya and across the continent.
He said AMREF’s 65 years of quality and innovative public and community health intervention and training has significantly contributed to the improvement of the health sector in Kenya and Africa as a whole.
Health CS Mutahi Kagwe said AMREF has been a key partner to the continent’s quest to formulate a new curriculum for training health workers, noting that the new institution will be crucial in enhancing the organization’s capacity to offer quality training to health practitioners.
“And am glad your Excellency that through the cooperation of AMREF and universities that are here, we have gone a long way in the preparation of a new curriculum of how we are going to train all our health workers both at KMTC, universities and in all institutions,” said the Health CS.
World Health Organization Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said his organization fully supports AMREF in its endeavours to construct another training institution for medical practitioners, saying the 65 years of AMREF service to African countries have tremendously impacted the continent’s healthcare sector.
AMREF Health Africa CEO Dr. Gitahi Githinji said the AMREF International University looks forward to being awarded a charter to enable it to train more health workers.
“We will be starting an AMREF University scholarship fund to support young women from marginalized communities and fragile countries to come and study at this university,” Dr. Githinji said.
The event was also attended by Head of Public Service Dr. Joseph Kinyua, WHO regional director for Africa Matshidiso Moeti and AMREF Health Africa’s International Board of Directors Chairman Charles Okeahalam among others.