On 26th of January 2018, Kenya Healthcare Federation, AMREF and Malteser International organized a successful introductory meeting for the MSP partnership at Radisson Blu, Upperhill, Nairobi. The turnout to the meeting was good and attendees included the H.E. Governor of Isiolo and Chairman of the Council of Governors Health Committees, Dr. Mohammed Kuti, County Executive Committee Health Members from across the country, professional associations, healthcare providers and training institutions.
The Chairman of KHF Dr. Amit Thakker spoke about the significance of timely interventions in the health sector in light of the strikes of 2017. He stressed the growing importance of the health sector and highlighted that the sector has been positioned to create the second highest number of jobs in Africa in the coming years. The esteemed Governor of Isiolo County, Dr. Mohammed Kuti addressed the attendees and urged them to take steps towards universal healthcare. He said that counties need to start thinking of how they can pre-empt upcoming challenges and pointed towards good relationships between health workers and county managers, technological advancements, better health financing models and appropriate training provisions as the way forward.
Pictured: H.E Dr. Mohammed Kuti: Governor Isiolo County
The introductory MSP meeting was carried out to vote for health specialist cadres that would be strengthened through the MSP partnership. The stakeholders were taken through needs analysis of 10 shortlisted health specialist cadres and then invited to vote for the health specialist professions that would be focused on in the MSP project.
Emergency Care Professionals, Community Health Workers and Health Records and Information Officers were chosen through the voting process to be the focus of the MSP project. The stakeholders were given an opportunity to voice their views on the chosen cadres from their perspective as outlined below.
Emergency Care Professionals
Many stakeholders agreed that this health cadre required immediate attention. Stakeholders shared expert knowledge that strengthened the case to fund capacity building activities for the emergency care professionals.
- The regulatory body in place only covers doctors and nurses. Therefore there is actually no regulatory body for any other emergency care professional groups. In practice, attempts to resolve this have included a system of self-regulation, which has no legal standing. However, because of the advocacy efforts, employers started asking for the certificate despite the lack of a legal requirement.
- The Kenyan Constitution gives every Kenyan a right to emergency medical care. In order to achieve this, there is a need to strengthen emergency care professionals because most emergencies do not occur in hospitals. Therefore the discussion needs to go beyond doctors and nurses.
- Noor, the CEC Health member of Wajir County shared that nurses handle the emergency unit in Wajir, and thus it is important to train specialists for this unit.
- Rukia Abdulkadir from Red Cross expressed the organization’s support of emergency medical services. The Red Cross has been providing a lot of free (CSR) services because of the crisis in the emergency medical care health stream.
- Benjamin Wachira, the Executive Director of Emergency Care Kenya Foundation (EMKF) pointed that out that part of the problem stemmed from the fact that emergency medical care is not taught in medical school. It was pointed out that there is a need to reassess the training provisions in this area.
Community Health Workers
The discussions on community health workers were engaging and gave the CEC Health Members a platform to share perspectives based on the communities they were dealing with in their counties.
- The CEC Health Member from Busia County and the CDNS Homa Bay representative, Dr. Maurice Simiyu and Dr. Daniel Okuku respectively, explained how their counties had allocated funding towards salaries for community health workers. Dr. Simiyu said that Busia County decided to pay community health workers because the referrals that came through this health cadre have been necessary to save lives.
- Some stakeholders pointed out the need to legalize and strengthen training for community health workers. It was highlighted that the Community Health Worker Scheme of Service (2013) was insufficient so long as it was not legally binding, particularly since financial allocations towards community health workers depend on the good will of the Counties.
- Finally, there was a call to shift mindsets towards appreciating the return on investment from preventing the spread of infections and diseases rather than only thinking about how much was spent on community health workers.
Health Records and Information Officers
There was collective agreement that further research needed to be conducted on this area.
- There was an emphasis on the importance of this health cadre to provide data to monitor and evaluate progress and to plan the health agendas of all the counties.
- As one attendee put it, “We are in a digital world – when we are pushing for this training what are we pushing for?”
After the successful discussion, all the attendees were invited to register their interest to be part of the thematic committees for each of the shortlisted cadres that would be involved in shaping the way forward.
The success of the meeting went beyond the specific agenda of the MSP project. The MSP meeting showcased the commitment of relevant stakeholders towards working together on a health agenda focused on universal healthcare provision, strengthening current systems and fostering public-private partnerships within the health sector. The attendees expressed their appreciation of the meeting platform for bringing them together to understand and learn from different perspectives and challenges across the HRH in the health sector.
Ms. Sarah Omache, the CEC Health Member of Kisii County concluded that it had been productive and enabling to be part of meeting with representation from both the public and private sector and hoped that this would be the first step towards moving the health agenda forward in the best way possible.
Yvonne Mathu from Aga Khan University and Dr. Solomon Kilaha from KMTC conveyed their support towards the MSP project and the wider health agenda by detailing their plans for curriculum development in line with the needs of the health sector in the near future.
Moses Lorre from KHPS was elated that one of KHPS’s member associations was picked for capacity building and commended the event organizers for creating an event that built trust between all the relevant stakeholders.