On healthcare, Uhuru’s scorecard is best in history
When he took over the reins of power in 2013, President Uhuru Kenyatta promised that his administration would transform the public healthcare system in the country.
At the time, the government allocation on healthcare was at 6.5 per cent of the national budget. Consequently, the public healthcare was largely dependent on donor funding.
Health facilities were few, poorly staffed and drugs were inadequate in the available facilities. Many Kenyans had to travel to the nearest urban center to get medical services and for more severe cases
Uhuru promised an increase of between 6 per cent to 15 per cent in the budgetary allocation to healthcare. This would enable his administration to implement a plan to achieve universal health access. The plan was to have the free services made available to the most vulnerable groups before expanding the same to the rest of the population.
Nine years later, his administration has achieved laudable progress in enhancing the public healthcare system in the country.
Uhuru began by increasing healthcare infrastructure in the entire country.
As of 2021, the government had constructed additional 1,912 new health facilities, up from only 4,430 in 2013.
This increase has been distributed in all the levels. Level 5 hospitals increased by 44 per cent, Level 4 hospitals by nine per cent, Level 3 hospitals by 34 per cent and level 2 hospitals increased by 49 per cent.
In addition, two hospitals have been upgraded to referral status. These are the Kenyatta University Teaching, Referral and Research Hospital in Nairobi County and the Kenyatta National Hospital Othaya Annex in Nyeri County. The Othaya hospital serves a total of eight counties in Central Kenya.
This has saved Kenyans travel costs to urban areas to get specialised medical care. In the Nairobi metropolis, the government has established 15 fully-fledged health centres with 10 more still under construction.
The Managed Equipment service was initiated in 2015. A total of 1,241 pieces of equipment have been availed to 113 hospitals across the counties.
Today, there are a total of 603 dialysis machines, from a national total of 26 in 2013. The government has also increased the number of radiology and imaging machines which have so far benefitted 4,534,822 patients. The integrated molecular imaging centre at the Kenyatta University Teaching, Referral and Research Hospital is the first of its kind in the expansive Sub-Saharan region.
This facility will help in the early detection of cancer cases. In addition, there are a total of 95 well-equipped laboratories, a magnificent increase from just one in 2013. Initially, only one lab in the entire country could detect notifiable diseases and the country had to send samples to South Africa and wait up to five days for the results. This is no longer the case as the 95 laboratories are fully equipped for this.
In 2013, Kenyatta gave a presidential directive that maternity services should be free in all public health facilities. This was a relief for many mothers especially those from low-income families. Before then, many gave birth at home, without specialized assistance and this often resulted in the high infant mortality rate.
It is appropriate to say that President Kenyatta has outdone his three predecessors in improving the public healthcare system in the country. Kenyans can only hope that their successor can only have the same level of commitment to improving the system further.