Finland explores business opportunities in the Kenya Health Sector
Kenya Healthcare Federation (KHF) held the 5th Bi-Monthly members meeting at the Fairmont Norfolk hotel in Nairobi. The meeting which was held in 2 parts – networking forum with Team Finland, and members meeting, was sponsored by Team Finland who had visited Kenya to discuss business opportunities. Team Finland is a network of public service providers providing internationalization services for companies. The network seeks to provide companies with a smooth service chain from counseling to finance. The main sectors of business focus for the Team Finland delegation were; Education, Energy and Health. The Finland business delegation on health and health education included Perkinelmer Wallac, Vamed Company, Logonet Group, Oulu University of applied sciences and Tampere University of applied science. They were open for partnerships that would help address issues of access and quality of healthcare.
In his opening remarks at the networking forum, Dr. Amit Thakker, KEPSA health sector board and KHF chair stated that the private sector provides 50% of medical services in Kenya. He further added that KHF provides a platform to examine Kenya’s health landscape and identify the type of partnerships that will promote trade and investment in Kenya. Affordable Healthcare for all being one of H.E. President Uhuru Kenyatta’s BIG 4 Agenda, the socio-economic agenda comes at an opportune time in Kenya where the county and national governments are appreciating the inclusion of the private sector. The key opportunities that will require beneficial, cross-cutting resolutions and partnerships include supply chain, local manufacturing and technology These areas offer opportunities for innovations to increase quality and reduce cost of health care.
Dr. Thakker then chaired the members meeting that brought together 50 members. Dr. Elizabeth Wala, KHF Vice Chair, took the members through the KHF strategic plan 2018-2020 which focuses on an increased level of advocacy, public-private partnerships, networking and regional integration. Reflecting on the previous term 2015 – 2017, she noted that there has been remarkable achievements in the membership growth (96%), that KHF has managed to hold fruitful engagements with county health stakeholders, and that through the regular ministerial stakeholders forum (MSF) KHF has managed to get a favorable ruling on the importation of medical equipment and commodities. KHF through the same forum is advocating for policy decisions to promote local pharmaceutical and medical devices manufacturing with the aim of reducing cost of healthcare.
In the strategic plan 2018-2020, the federation through it’s advocacy role will ensure that the under privileged, elderly and marginalized are considered in the national health insurance. KHF will continue to play an advisory role to the Ministry of Health on better health financing models. In line with the BIG 4 Agenda, KHF will ensure that it’s communication and publications will provide expertise on issues affecting the health sector especially where affordability, accessibility and quality of care is concerned. KHF will strengthen it’s partnership with the counties through county health stakeholders engagements to ensure quality is enhanced in health facilities.
Dr. Thakker took the members through the discussion points of the upcoming presidential round table (PRT) which will be focusing on “Closing the gap to the BIG 4 Agenda for Universal Health Coverage.” He informed the members that the private health sector will participate in the following areas: provision of health services, supply chain, technology, innovations and healthcare financing. Some of the key pain points that will be discussed include; high input cost of providing medical care, inefficient use of health infrastructure, shortage of human resources for health, multiple fees, charges and taxes, high cost of medical products and supplies, counterfeits, tax burden, irregular parallel imports, fragmentation of the health sector, poor information sharing, lack of enabling regulation to support innovation in health, delayed NHIF accreditation/ reimbursements, legislated NHIF monopoly, unfavorable laws, lack of overarching regulations for health insurance, sustainability for UHC and ensuring coverage for the poor.
Second Universal Health Coverage Conference in Nyeri
Kenya Vision 2030 delivery secretariat in partnership with Ministry of Health (MoH), Kenya Healthcare Federation (KHF), Amref Health Africa, Kenya Cardiac Society, Council of Governors, NCD Alliance Kenya, Kenyatta University and Nyeri county health department organized the second Universal Health Coverage Conference held at Green Hills Hotel, Nyeri County from 11th – 12th September 2018. The conference sought to address the non – communicable disease (NCD) challenge to the country and was appropriately themed “Universal Health Coverage for Sustainable Development – Transformative Solutions to Halt and Reverse the Non-Communicable Disease Epidemic”
The conference was graced by several dignitaries: Her Excellency Dr. Carol Karugu, Deputy Governor, Nyeri County; His Excellency Prof. Peter Anyang’ Nyong’o, Governor, Kisumu County; His Excellency Prof. Kivutha Kibwana, Governor, Makueni County; Dr. Julius Muia EBS, Principal Secretary, State Department for Planning; Dr. Racheal Kamau, CEC Health, Nyeri County.
Rev. Samuel Njenga of the Presbyterian Church of East Africa opened the conference with prayer and thereafter giving a brief address. He said that the church has a vital role to play in advocating for and sensitizing the people about good health.
Dr. Kamau welcomed participants and thanked the organizers for choosing Nyeri County to host the conference, adding that she looked forward to fruitful deliberations. “Nyeri County is facing a high burden of NCDs. We need to change our ways of practice and take up the challenge” she remarked. Thereafter Dr. Kibachio Mwangi, the Head of NCD unit at MoH highlighted the key objectives of the conference which were: Understand the NCDs challenge; outline the role of private sector in addressing NCDs; outline the role of consumer organizations in protecting the public from sale of harmful products; and outline the role of government, civil society and the youth in addressing NCDs. Dr. Mwangi emphamphised that NCDs are not purely a health agenda, but require a multi-sectoral approach incorporating sectors such as transport, education and agriculture particularly in prevention measures.
“We should put health first; unfortunately what are addressing is a result of our choices such as what we eat. Good health plays an important role in boosting the economy, reducing poverty, increasing education and boosting investment” Dr. Julius Muia said in his address to the conference.Preventive measures against NCDs took center stage in the deliberations. It was appreciated that more focus needs to move to prevention as we continue in disease management interventions.
The consensus on the way forward included creating awareness, education of the public and preventive measures against NCDs, adoption of a multi-sectoral approach, utilizing Public- Private Partnerships and supporting local pharmaceutical manufacturers to make medicines affordable and strengthening the supply chain. “Managing NCDs is very expensive. If we truly want to make UHC achievable, we need to address the issue of cost. If we reduce costs we’ll be able to expand the care. The biggest PPP opportunity in cost reduction is in supply chain”, said Dr. Peter Kamunyo, Director, Kenya Healthcare Federation.
Further, there was consensus that community health volunteers (CHVs) should be officially entrenched in the health system. It was recognized that CHVs play a very critical role in NCD public sensitization. It was agreed that NHIF be strengthened, that it should cover preventive health checks and that it should ensure that the poor and vulnerable are covered. The country should strategize on addressing the poor availability, lack of affordability and inadequate resources as barriers to UHC. Young people should be informed and sensitized on NCDs so they can act as role models to their peers in NCDs prevention. NCD education should be incorporated in the school curriculum.
A patient representative at the conference made an appeal to the health sector to address survivorship of NCDs, a phase of management that insurance doesn’t cover. She highlighted that cancer patients are usually deserted by friends and family after diagnosis due to the burden of their disease on their loved ones. “We are left alone. It’s time for medics to inform us how we can survive after diagnosis of an NCD like cancer. This way trauma can reduce and a patient can accept the situation, love on themselves and even achieve their goals. The price of medications is usually very high and almost unaffordable. Patients get financially drained while trying to get medication”, said Elizabeth, a cancer survivor of nine years.
Professor Nyong’o called on stakeholders to identify areas of inequity in health care, and strategize on how to fill the gaps. “Counties don’t have a strong primary healthcare system, the aim of UHC is to strengthen primary healthcare” said Dr. Karugu, while Prof. Kibwana called upon all pilot counties to learn from each other as a way achieving UHC uniformly, further adding that CHVs will play a big role in rolling out UHC, particularly in educating communities.
The conference was well attended attracting 400 delegates drawn from both public and private health sectors. There was representation from national government, county governments, World Bank, the United Nations office in Kenya, Non-governmental organizations and youth organizations. KHF was represented by the chairman, Dr. Amit Thakker, directors Dr. Peter Kamunyo and Dr. Daniella Munene, Dr. Joy Mugambi, deputy Secretary General, Kenya Medical Association (all panelists), as well as several KHF members who attended as delegates. A number of KHF member organizations sponsored the event.