By Samwel Doe Ouma@samweldoe
The Health Ministry should develop a differentiated approach in healthcare service delivery by reorienting the health system to focus on preventive health, United Nations resident coordinator says.
Siddharth Chatterjee said Kenya should strengthen preventive care services by revitalizing care provisions to reduce the need for curative services, adding this will reduce the demand for care.
“Government should focus on improving health outcomes through pro-active, preventive health measures to address causes of diseases,” he said, saying this is the best approach to achieve universal health coverage.
He said primacy of predictive and preventive approach is crucial in attainment of quality and affordable health for all.
Chatterjee observed that providing care such as routine checkups, health-risk assessments and screening tests for men, women and children can create a comprehensive prevention strategy within the health care system.
The latest data by the UHC scoping team reveals bottlecks hindering attainment of UHC targets.
It shows low satisfaction among users of public health services, rising maternal mortality ratio from 320 per 100,000 live births in 2010 to 389 per 100,000 live births in 2016 as well as declining national immunization coverage from 83 percent in 2014 to 73 percent in 2016.
Government should set aside resources for health care interventions and physician services that offer the best opportunity to prevent disease, maintain health and promote longitudinal health across a majority of population, he added.
“We should look for ways to prevent diseases through immunization, educating public on disease management, population screening, programs for behavior change, encouraging exercises and, better hygiene,” he added.
Chartterjee said that in order to achieve the preventive care approach there is need for data to understand the current burden of disease and plan for the future.
This, he said, will help in effective planning and resource allocation in reducing deaths caused by chronic ailments such as cancers, mental health conditions and substance abuse.
He added that the number of people suffering from non-communicable diseases is rising, and levels of stunting and malnutrition in arid and semi-arid counties are rising at an alarming rate yet can be managed through preventive approaches to health.
“UHC should involve scaling up immunization, prevention of water borne, vector borne, TB, HIV and sexually transmitted diseases, improving reproductive, nutrition, maternal and child health and prevention of non-communicable diseases like diabetes and hypertension,” he said.
The country has inadequate health workforce in both numbers and skills. The distribution of health workforce is also skewed in favor of urban areas with some rural health facilities having staffing gaps.
Focus on wellness converges on embracing Kenya’s traditional foods to eat-right, cessation of alcohol and tobacco and creating community awareness about lifestyle changes.
Preventive measures like immunization, Chatterjee said, has got huge cyclical benefits in terms of physical and cognitive development of the subsequent generations.
“Hearing loss screening among newborns, obesity and malnutrition prevention and management for children and youth, and breastfeeding promotion and depression screening for women in the perinatal period can help in effectively reducing cost of care,” he added.