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Experts urge Kenya to tap private sector
funds to achieve universal health care

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenyan economic experts on Thursday urged the government to tap into private sector funds in order to achieve universal health care.

Kwame Owino, chief executive officer of the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), told a health forum in Nairobi that government’s health spending in the 2017/18 financial year was about 6.7 percent of the country’s budget, which is less than the 15 percent that the African Union countries committed in 2001 in order to improve the health of their citizens.

“Embracing use of private sector funds to promote access to health services has numerous advantages because it promotes efficiency and tends to be more cost effective,” Owino said during a forum on emerging health sector financing trends.

Owino said that the primary health care budget share has been stagnant and amongst the lowest in the East African region.

He observed that funding of most health programs still remains donor-dependent at about 80 percent of total funding.

Owino noted that the rebasing of the country’s economy to a higher-income country means that the donor support the country is receiving will decrease.

He said that increasing health needs and the rising demand for health services have both heightened the government’s fiscal pressures.

“Due to fiscal constraints, many governments including Kenya are turning to the private sector through approaches, such as public private partnerships (PPPs), as an alternative to financing broad-based health care provision,” he added.

The expert noted that Kenya’s management equipment services (MES) is one such PPP model to an inclusive health care provision.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends 250 health care workers (doctors, nurses and midwives) per 100,000 population.

Owino said that currently Kenya has an estimated 10,921 doctors, 51,420 nurses and 18,759 clinical officers, the combined workforce works out to 176 per 100,000 Kenyans, just about a half of the recommended ratio.

He said that the government considers access to health services as a critical condition for development.

“It thus aims to attain the highest possible standards of health in a manner responsive to the needs of the population as noted in various reports, including the Kenya Health Policy 2014-2030,” he said.


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