Kenya’s COVID-19 situation is on a downward spiral with infection rates and deaths rapidly increasing on a daily basis. This has created an urgent need for efficiency in pooling and distribution of resources in the healthcare system.
According to the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Doctors Union, 30 healthcare workers including 10 specialist doctors have died from COVID-19. There are also more than 2,000 confirmed infections. This is mainly due to lack of quality protective equipment. They plan to conduct a nationwide strike if their demands for safer work environments are not met.
In addition to that, the government stated that the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) cannot cover coronavirus patients. Costs of treating COVID-19 are quite high and the average Kenyan citizen is unable to afford treatment.
The cost of managing asymptomatic patients in a public hospital is about ksh 21,300 daily. Severe cases that require supplemental oxygen costs about ksh 51,000 per day and critical cases who need ventilator support cost about ksh 71,000 a day. Personal Protective Equipment is the major contributor to high cost of treatment.
Wrestling a shortage of specialists in addition to PPE shortages, drug shortages, high cost of treatment and minimum support from the government reflects poorly on Kenya’s state of health security.
The Government’s Effort
Having borrowed Ksh 4.5 billion every 24 hours in the first three months of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is expected that the country would have a more effective and efficient COVID-19 recovery process. All we have witnessed so far is inefficient procurement processes and a few recovery projects that only cover a small section of the population.
The president recently launched a 100-bed United Nations-Nairobi Hospital Treatment Facility (UNTNH). This partnership project between the Government of Kenya, United Nations and Nairobi Hospital is projected to last over 25 years to handle the existing pandemic and other infectious diseases. It is mainly focused on enhancing the treatment capacity for United Nations staff and the entire diplomatic community in Kenya,
As they plan to reopen schools, all government-employed tutors will receive full medical cover under the Teachers Service Commission’s medical scheme for ailments related to COVID-19.
Other projects meant to take care of the mass population have either failed or are poorly managed. Plans to provide 100% healthcare coverage for all Kenyans by 2022 are still underway and all we can do is stay hopeful.
The Way Forward
We are still so far from achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in Kenya. There has been a joint continental strategy to pool financial resources that would help African countries achieve UHC but the success of this is yet to be seen.
As our leaders fuel their political ambitions through referendum campaigns and other activities, it is important for them to take note of the current state of health security and mobilize resources towards preventing further damage.
COVID-19 has provided various opportunities for innovation in the delivery of healthcare products and services. Vezeeta for instance, is an app and website that enables Kenyans to access expert medical advice from doctors and receive professional guidance on dealing with COVID-19.
To get more information on how we can achieve Universal Health Coverage in Africa, let’s engage at AHSA.