Kenya’s Health System Needs Modernization

We have mentioned elsewhere before that Kenya’s public health system is among the best in the world! The only problem is that it lacks essentials and modernization, a factor that causes its current problem including the ongoing Doctors’ strike. For things to get better, the Kenyan authorities and all the stakeholders need to tackle the complex problems it currently faces and solve them effectively so that the system can achieve its objective of providing high quality medical and health care to the citizens at the grassroots.

The truth about the challenges Kenya’s health system is facing are complex. That means that the challenges are dynamic, changing every single day and becoming more compounded and more complex with each passing day as long as such challenges remain unresolved. From a technical standpoint, the Kenyan government and all the stakeholders have the solutions to the complex problems. The only problem is this, as when it comes to all complex problems, they do not know the problems to which the solutions must be applied. It therefore means that both the Kenyan government and all the stakeholders know the problems so that they can apply the solutions to them. These are some of the solutions that different actors have(please note that this list of actors is not exhaustive. A complete list of actors will include: nurses, hospital workers, hospital management, suppliers/vendors, pharmacists, local leaders, etc):

  1. Kenya Government. This actor is the problem owner i.e. it is the government that can make decisions, implement any solutions and finance the health system. The government wants to provide high quality free health and medical care to the citizens cost-effectively. To the government, what is cost-effective is determined by some of its various organs e.g. SRC, the Treasury, The Health Cabinet Secretary, County Governors, the Judiciary and the executive, i.e. the President. To many people within govenrment circles, cost-effectiveness and affordability are one and the same thing. It therefore calls for this actor to go further and apply high quality i.e acceptable quality and realism to this solution before it can apply it.
  2. Doctors. The doctors want to give their services to the citizens under conducive working conditions including commensurate remuneration, a conducive environment for the doctors and patients and sustainable policies that can guarantee  acceptable quality medical care to ALL Kenyans. To this end, their solution, they argue, is in a Collective Bargaining Agreement(CBA) that was drawn and registered some years ago but was never implemented. They want the CBA to be fully  implemented by the govenrment.
  3. Patients. These citizens need good health both preventively and correctively in a timely manner so that their lives are saved and their good health guaranteed.
  4. The citizens. The public want a running health system where the govenrment ensures everything is smooth and the doctors, other medical and allied staff and patients are all satisfied. They want their taxes to be used properly with no waste and with no corruption.
  5. Kenya’s Development partners. This actor wants any grants and lending it gives to Kenya’s health sector to trickle down to Kenya’s citizens and improve life expectancy as well as reducing infant mortality rates amongst other factors. Under this  category of actors we have the World Bank, the UN (remember sustainability goals?), WHO, the international community, other international organizations, etc.

Since the problems facing the health system are complex, it calls for a process management approach to resolve the issue. This multi-issue, multi-actor approach can get  solutions or a solution that can work for all the actors without compromising the overall objective of acceptable health and medical care sustainably.

We urge the Kenya govenrment to employ a modern realistic approach to resolving the complex issue and apply a workable solution to the problem so that Kenyans do not continue suffering periodically and unnecessarily!

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