As food is important to the body, so is universal healthcare to a country. Universal healthcare simply describes a situation where every citizen in a given country has access to quality and affordable healthcare. Once a Kenyan queue for a day-long and finally casts their vote, they are always so ecstatic that most of their problems, if not all, will be solved – healthcare included. A healthy nation is a happy nation and a poor healthcare system is a serious threat to a country’s future.
In our beloved country Kenya, so promising in its rapid development and rise in Africa, UHC is one of the big four agenda of His excellency the President to transform our country’s healthcare system by 2022. Its aim is to ensure that Kenyans have access to preventive, promotive, curative, rehabilitative and palliative health services at an affordable cost. Out of the 47 counties, four counties have been selected for a pilot test project that will precede its’ actualization, these include; Kisumu, Nyeri, Isiolo, and Machakos.
This project focuses on the primary healthcare approach that includes scaling up of immunization services, maternal and child health services, family planning, antenatal and postnatal care services. Its also focusing on prevention of waterborne, vector-borne, TB, sexually transmitted infections, HIV and improving the nutrition of women who conceive and follow through to the first five years of a child’s life.
This project brings together many stakeholders starting from healthcare providers, government administrators, and the common citizen. All of them must work together to guarantee their success. The government through its various levels has the biggest duty in ensuring all personnel and equipment needed are available in all facilities on time. Healthcare providers consisting of nurses, who are the backbone of healthcare, doctors, pharmacists, clinical officers, therapists, counselors just to mention a few, are tasked to ensure that all Kenyans who come to the health facilities get quality services.
In line with UHC achievement, we have to be more serious. We cannot be having endless industrial actions by our health workers due to poor working conditions, delayed salaries and poor pay and yet we are boasting on how ready we are in implementing UHC. The government needs to motivate healthcare providers by improving their working conditions and paying them well. Unending corruption scandals countrywide need to stop as they are puncturing the wheels of UHC realization. This will go along way in ensuring that even a pregnant woman from the most remote part of Kenya will be able to get quality antenatal, maternal and postnatal services for her and the child, that’s when we can proudly say we are headed in the right direction in achieving UHC. Let us wake up!
The role of nurses in UHC cannot be ignored. Nursing bodies have clearly expressed this point including the International Council of Nurses (ICN). More about their release can be read from here
Makau J. Mwendwa