Kenya has marked 2018 with a national drive to realize universal health coverage (UHC).
President Uhuru Kenyatta’s economic development agenda, unveiled last year at his inaugural re-election speech, includes UHC among “The Big Four” – the four major focus areas the government will prioritize over the next five years. The other three areas are food security, affordable housing and manufacturing. In the next five years, the government has promised to undergo a major effort around the attainment of UHC through policy and administrative reforms in the health sector.
The new push toward the implementation of UHC will consolidate and focus national efforts on three areas: increasing population coverage, enabling access to health care services and raising the quality of provided services. The UHC roadmap announced by President Kenyatta’s administration details a plan to incrementally provide health coverage through public and private insurance for 100 percent of Kenya citizens by 2022 – a major increase from the country’s current population coverage of 36 percent.
The Kenyan Ministry of Health is in the process of developing the policy framework, strategy and roadmap to realize the UHC agenda. Future efforts will focus on increasing coverage of citizens working in the informal sector, who frequently lack formal coverage for health services, as well as providing coverage to the elderly and other vulnerable groups.
JLN Kenya Aligns with National UHC Efforts
The JLN is poised to support the Kenyan government’s UHC agenda. The JLN Kenya Country Core Group (CCG), a group of national health and finance practitioners who represent Kenya and its national priorities in the JLN, has identified three mechanisms for JLN to support the government UHC agenda: adopting JLN tools, establishing an integrated national and sub-national JLN platform and aligning their efforts with the national UHC working group.
Three JLN tools have been identified for adoption in Kenya, which will be supported by a formal technical working group that will provide technical assistance for the adaptation process:
- The Primary Health Care Self-Assessment Tool
The rapid diagnostic framework identifies practical policy opportunities in the health system to improve the relationship between health financing and primary health care efforts.
- Costing of Health Services for Provider Payment: A Practical Manual
This costing manual bridges theory with practical step-by-step guidance on addressing challenges related to costing for provider payment in low- and middle-income countries.
- Toolkit for Medical Audit Systems: Practical Advice from Implementers to Implementers
Aiming to address gaps in practical knowledge, this toolkit provides guidance on setting up medical audit units, conducting investigations, and using the results of a medical audit.
With a devolved health system, 47 county governments are responsible for delivering health services to Kenya’s citizens. The JLN Kenya CCG plans to establish an integrated platform that will convene the Ministry of Health and county governments in supporting the national UHC agenda while giving county practitioners greater access to JLN’s practical tools and technical support.
To support this initiative, the CCG will tap into the Joint Learning Fund, a flexible fund administered by the JLN to help countries in their UHC efforts, in addition to support from the World Bank and county governments. This effort will be conducted in a phased approach: the national-level entities will begin by working closely with six counties that already have UHC initiatives in place.
Lastly, the CCG will align with the National Health Financing structure – as part of the Technical Working Group of the Health Financing Inter-Agency Coordinating Committee – to position JLN Kenya to effectively contribute to the national UHC agenda.
Notes on the Authors: Dr. Kenneth Munge, Health Economist, KEMRI Wellcome Trust; Joseph Githinji, UHC Consultant; and Esther Wabuge, JLN Kenya CCG Coordinator
Photo credit: World Bank