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New World Bank Report Offers Mixed Picture of Kenya’s Health Sector

Maureen Anyango
World-Bank

A new World Bank report notes that the health sector in Kenya has made great strides in service delivery even though it can perform much better by increasing efficiency and equity in its operations and management of financial resources.

The suggestions offered include: increasing public funding to the health sector – particularly for primary health care, reducing reliance on out of pocket (OOP) payments and moving towards pre-payment financing mechanisms such as health insurance.

The report noted that OOP payments are inefficient, inequitable and contribute to households’ poverty and impoverishment. “When a family member becomes sick, households are often forced to drain their financial resources to meet treatment costs. And this money is unplanned for,” states Ms Jane Kiringai, Senior Economist at World Bank.

The review therefore called for pre-payment financing mechanisms such as increasing the share of tax funds allocated to the health sector and promoting health insurance. The report, entitled Laying the Foundation for a Robust Health Care System in Kenya: Kenya Public Expenditure Review 2014, also noted that the country spends only six percent of its total budget on healthcare thus making Kenya trail other East African countries.

This is despite Kenya committing to increase the share of health spending in the budget to meet the Abuja Declaration target of 15 percent. In Rwanda, health expenditure takes 22.6 percent of the budget. In Tanzania it is 14 percent whereas in Uganda it is 10.4 percent.

The report also indicates that donor support to Kenya’s health sector nearly doubled over the past decade and now contributes about a third of the total health expenditure, though a huge part of the expenditure is off-budget and targets few major communicable diseases.

“This approach undermines strategic prioritisation and will have contingent liabilities to the government when donors that fund the health sector exit,” noted the report. It further stated that devolution provides a unique opportunity for the health sector to address long standing inefficiencies as well as inequities in healthcare service delivery.

“This is because county governments now have an opportunity to address historical inequities in access to health services.” Moreover, the study stated that counties can also benefit from effective sharing of resources (networked hospitals) with neighbouring counties rather than focusing on new investments (building new hospitals).

The report also recommended that counties develop incentive to motivate their health staff whilst equipping health facilities with essential medical supplies aimed at providing quality care to citizens.

Published By Maureen Anyango
Copyright © 2011 Africa Science News

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