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Health Policy in Kenya— Tricky Transition to Access for All

The initiative of the Jubilee government under the new Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta has been to provide free healthcare access to all. This new policy enables no-cost service at all Level I, Level II, and Level III facilities, which includes all health centers and facilities.

Many of the clinics in which we work have already seen a significant increase in patient populations at their sites. This increased utilization of healthcare services has already had a positive impact on many communities; for example, the number of women delivering at the clinics has doubled at some sites, ensuring safer childbirths and reduced maternal deaths.

 

At the same time, the transition has been challenging for many of the sites in which we work. For example, at Olereko, a one-room dispensary in which CliniPAK is currently operating, the volume of patients has fully doubled, resulting in longer wait-times and over-exerted staff.

On the part of healthworkers, responses have been mixed. While they are very supportive of increased access to care, several nurses I have spoken to are also concerned about misuse or overuse of healthcare services. One nurse-in-charge to whom I spoke noted that she thought paying the small fee for service (20 shillings) had kept patients more responsible for following through with the treatment, since they had contributed to a portion of the cost. Another obstacle has been obtaining sufficient clinic inventory for the increased demand. While clinics often order their stock quarterly and a month or two in advance, many of the shipments had been backordered because of increased demand. As a result, many patients have been required to purchase medicines at a pharmacist after receiving a prescription from the health center.

Our hope is that CliniPAK can assist in making the transition to free healthcare as smooth as possible. Improved and more granular data capture enabled by the CliniPAK will allow for accurate information regarding the patient volume at sites as well as the quantity of treatments required, ensuring sufficient allocation of resources at each site. Through installation of eHealth solutions such as CliniPAK, we can assist in overcoming the challenges introduced by universal healthcare policies worldwide.

Paula Trepman

Intern