Second International Conference on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health in Africa
Kenya proudly hosted the second international conference on maternal, newborn and child health in Africa themed “Maintaining momentum and focus towards ending preventable maternal and child deaths by 2030 – Sustainable path towards Africa’s Transformation.” The conference was held at the Safari Park Hotel in Nairobi from 29th October to 31st October 2018.This conference that brought together different health stakeholders from across Africa and was opened by the first lady, H.E Mrs. Margret Kenyatta, republic of Kenya.
In her opening remarks, she welcomed delegates and guests from different nationalities and further applauded the ministry of Health and the African Union Commission for the efforts made towards a reduction of Maternal and child mortality. “57% of maternal mortality happens in Africa of which 6,000 happens in Kenya. Kenya demands affordable and safe maternal health services. Let us applaud the role and efforts made by the community health workers and skilled health workers.” H.E Mrs. Margret Kenyatta. She further said that the conference is very timely and looks forward to it’s fruitfulness as Kenya has prioritized affordable health as one of the big four agenda.
“This conference has come at a point where there is a lot of issues happening to the women and children. However, We need to work together to bring out the health Agenda to fruition, this will see the achievement of sustainable development goal and further achieve the transformative goal in Africa.” Her Excellency Amira Elfadil Mohammed, Commissioner for Social Affairs African Union.
The conference was also grace by the Cabinet Secretary for Health Mrs. Sicily Kariuki, Principal Secretary for foreign affairs Mr. Macharia Kamau and first ladys’ from different counties across the country. Call for partnerships was key as discussed and reiterated by majority of the key speakers. This was a call to work together and combine efforts and ideas among the Ministry of Health and associated Ministries, private health sector and Non-Governmental Organizations, so as give a solution not only to lower Maternal and child mortality, but also to end it.
In her remarks, the Cabinet Secretary for health Mrs. Sicily Kariuki, applauded the county governments for their efforts in reducing the maternal and child mortality especially fighting against early child marriage thus encouraging education to girl child. She thanked the first lady Mrs. Margaret Kenyatta for her effort in improving accessibility to maternal health services through beyond zero initiatives. “I urge county governments to continue in improving maternal and child health.We need to intensify efforts to keep girls in school. We are glad that the government has prioritized women, children and adolescent health.” Mrs. Sicily Kariuki Cabinet Secretary for Health.
“ Everything that drives peace between each other, between nations and organizations, is based on how we treat each other.This begins at the family level.We need to invest in good health for the mother and child and this should start at the community level.” Mr. Macharia Kamau, Principal Secretary for Ministry of foreign affairs.
“According to a research carried out in March 2018, majority of Kenyans support devolution in health this is very encouraging and gives hopes of a collaboration towards achieving affordable health. Counties have plans of improving nutrition as one of the solution towards ending maternal mortality, however, there are challenges to achieving this and we must collaborate” Dr. Mohammed Kuti, Governor, Isiolo County.
Dr. Amit N. Thakker, Chairman, Kenya Healthcare Federation represented the private health sector on a panel discussion on ‘What Africa needs to stay on track towards ending preventable maternal ,newborn and child death by 2030.’ “We believe that a woman is at the centre of the family, community and above all at the centre of economic growth in Africa” Dr. Amit N. Thakker, Chairman, Kenya Healthcare Federation. Dr. Thakker further informed the attendees that the private sector will focus on four areas including; Supply chain-this will ensure the support local manufacturers through which there will be a reduction of cost of medicines once implemented. Innovations and Technology – the private sector is ready to provide innovations and technology this has been done in India, Kenya and South Africa ranking third .The challenge facing this is how to get the innovations to the market. Human Resources for Health – there is need to recognize the role of the auxiliary health workers and community health workers, in this the private health sector will also concentrate on capacity building.
“Majority of maternal mortality happens at the health facilities, and less has been done in edu-informing people on the reproductive health a major concentration paid on the uterus. This should be at the core of discussion. Majority of maternal deaths occurs as a result of three delays including; delay in decision to seek care, delay in reaching care and delay in receiving adequate health care. However, in order to address maternal mortality, we need a strong health workforce, sufficient equipment and supplies, order and accountability.” Prof. Khama Rogo, Lead Health Sector Specialist, World Bank.
Ms. Faith Muigai, Director, Kenya Healthcare Federation moderated the panel session on ‘the role of private sector in advancing Reproductive, Maternal,Newborn and Child Health(RMNCH) Agenda’ Kenya Healthcare Federation was well represented in the panel discussion by Dr. Jaqueline Kitulu, director – Kenya Healthcare Federation Ms. Ivy Syovata – Philips East Africa, Dr. Peter Kamunyo, director – Kenya Healthcare Federation and Dr. Walter Obita ,director – Kenya Healthcare Federation. Major areas that were highlighted in the discussions were; Strengthening of the human resource especially in the area of capacity building, map out the distribution of health workers especially the specialists, identify the areas in need of health workers, training the health workers on how to handle equipments, role out financing models that is affordable and that covers the under privileged, training on emergency care should be carried out on the health workers. It was noted that there is less family planning facilities and supplies therefore supporting local manufacturers of drugs will see a reduction on the cost thus making the supplies more affordable.
“We need a central mechanism to map out numbers and distribution of all health workers both public and private .This is the only way that then we can plan as a country to recruit ,train and retain a motivated workforce that can equitably be distributed leveraging on all workers in all sectors to provide the much needed quality healthcare to the public. A health service commission is such a body.” Dr. Jacqueline Kitulu, Director, Kenya Healthcare Federation.
There was a unanimous agreement from different nationalities that the private sector, should partner with the ministry of health in sharing best practices, best innovations and technology and share best evidence based research. “We need to agree on partnerships through this there will be support on innovations and technology. for example maternal death prevention technology that can be used by the midwives. Philips East Africa have come up with mobile obstetrics monitoring , a technology that can be used by community health volunteers once trained.”Ms. Ivy Syovata, Philips East Africa.
Basing the discussion on best practice and successes observed in Zambia, Malawi and Liberia a major solution that was discussed in a parallel session on strengthening community plat forms for primary health care, was ‘Trust’ primary health care has been successful in the three countries through the efforts by the community health workers. They are trusted with health advocacy, communication and sensitization, they are trusted with handling health technology and medical equipments such as blood pressure machines.
Effective supply chain will establish a strong road map to achieving Universal Health Coverage
Quality and affordable medicines is key in achieving Universal Health Coverage. However in Kenya the prices of medication is very high thus putting patients with Non Communicable Diseases especially Diabetes and Hypertension in financial hardship and others are not able to keep up with the medication leading to more complications.
It has also been noted that there is importation of illicit drugs and the government should be very keen in curbing this. How can the private sector contribute in improving the quality of medication and ensuring the medication is affordable?
Kenya Healthcare Federation (KHF) supply chain committee held it’s quarterly meeting on 28th August 2018 at KHF offices. The meeting was chaired by the committee chair Dr. William Mwatu. Supply chain falls in two of the president’s BIG 4 Agenda that is manufacturing and affordable healthcare. The supply chain committee has been pushing for the support of local manufacturers this makes the medicines affordable.
“What are the reasons that support parallel importation and what are the impact? One of the major reason is to make profit but this has a negative impact on patients safety” Dr. Peter Kamunyo, Director Kenya Healthcare Federation. “When it comes to the supply of medication, the private sector should use Public Private Partnership (PPP) as a channel to advocate for the pharmaceutical regulatories to operate within the law.” Dr. Anastacia Nyalita, Director.
There was a consensus on developing a unique identifier and best coding mechanism, for example each drug pack should contain original details so that when a patient uses the code to search on the details of the pack , they should be able to get them. “Therefore the supply chain should use PPP as a channel to advocate for this.” Dr. William Mwatu Supply Chain Committee Chair.
Recently, the Pharmacy and Poison Board (PPB) of Kenya made a bold decision to address what maybe the local pharmaceutical industry’s most controversial issue, ‘Parallel Importation of pharmaceutical products. There has been few attempts made to tackle this but not be successful, however PPB hopes that the current attempt will be successful through considering all important aspects in order to build a consensus among all interested parties in coming up with a policy position that is not only widely acceptable but also addresses most of the contentious issues once and for all.
The key issues to consider is create more incentives towards local manufacturing, change perspective and strategize on how to marketing for local products. A consideration should be put on what percentage off is to be given to the local manufacturer to give value addition. The main aim of reducing the cost is to increase on accessibility and not maximize profit. The committee will be pushing for implementation of the guideline draft act by pharmacy and poisons Board (PPB) Dr. William Mwatu was re-elected as the committee chair and Mr. Chris Masila was elected as the committee vice Chair.
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.