Give health care top priority in manifestos, aspirants told
Stakeholders have embarked on a campaign to sensitise all presidential aspirants and political parties to include Primary Health Care (PHC) in manifestos.
The stakeholders, including experts on health policy, believe PHC is the surest platform through which Universal Health Coverage (UHC) can be implemented without hitches, if well financed.
Drawn from Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) working in the health sector, the experts are keen to see campaign manifestos designed to address gaps in implementation of UHC.
At a roundtable meeting that brought together Ministry of Health officials and other partners yesterday, the stakeholders announced a campaign to mobilise political leaders to support UHC.
“We are building a business case for primary healthcare. We are keen to see campaign messages geared towards development of a sustainable PHC,” Rosemarie Muganda, PATH Regional Advocacy and Public Policy Director for Africa said.
She challenged the next government to build on the gains made in the sector by investing in PHC, as an enabler of the Universal Health Coverage.
Currently, they are fine-tuning a document that aims at assessing presidential campaign manifestos being unveiled by various political parties. The CSOs are interrogating the manifestos to see if they are keen on aspirations of PHC.
Muganda said adequate investments in PHC will have a huge turn over to the communities for the country to achieve UHC. “PHC is the expressway to UHC. There’s no UHC without PHC,” she stated.
Muganda further noted that savings the country will make from having communities seek health care services at the community level are immense.
“We in the health sector know the benefits that will accrue from a robust PHC. This, therefore, calls for a deliberate decision to push funds towards developing a sustainable PHC,” she said.
The CSOs and ministry kicked off a series of meetings to increase knowledge of PHC policies among civil society; and build momentum for county implementation of policies including Primary Health Care Network (PCN) guidelines,
In the coming months, the programme will target PHC Advocacy, Communications and Community Engagement framework for PHC in Kenya 2021-24.
Programme will also leverage CSOs’ expertise and resources to advocate national government and counties to make commitments for financing PHC.
Muganda said innovation will be one of the components that will reduce mortality associated with poor investments in health.
“Designing healthcare services that meet the needs of people in the context of their settings, for instance, even replicating what has succeeded elsewhere if it addresses challenges that are similar,” she said. Some of these innovations have succeeded in some counties where new schemes for financing health through insurance – in a situation where people own the scheme as theirs – have shown progress.
One of these schemes, according to Muganda, is to ring-fence resources meant for health to avoid running into a situation where budgets are eaten by other competing sectors. “We have seen the benefits accruing from such investments in PHC,” she added.
This is particularly in counties such as Kakamega where intensive investments in primary healthcare has seen an increase of antenatal care uptake, the number of women giving birth with skilled attendants, increase in the number of parents bringing children to health care facilities, and immunisation rates being high.
She decried an existing mismatch between policy development and implementation in the country for so years.
Joyce Ng’ang’a, a Policy Advisor with Waci Health, an Africa regional advocacy organisation, called on decision makers to put in place clear strategies that are well costed to implement policies around health. “As partners implementing different interventions touching on PHC, we are called upon to regroup, strategise and in a collaborative spirit, leverage on our expertise and resources as we work towards strengthening PHC systems to deliver quality essential health services,” she said.
She held that Waci, as an organisation that influences political priorities, wants the government and its political leadership to focus PHC more clearly.
Health NGOs Network Vice-Chair, Howard Akimala, acknowledged that one of the biggest challenges that primary healthcare is facing is financing, noting that presently, there is no clear budget line singularly dedicated to it.