Chief Guest Speech - Hon. Prof. P. A. Nyong’o

SPEECH BY HON. PROFESSOR PETER A. NYONG’O EGH, MP, MINISTER FOR MEDICAL SERVICES CHIEF GUEST DURING THE OFFICIAL OPENING OF KENYA ASSOCIATION OF PHYSICIANS 15TH ANNUAL SCIENTIFIC CONFERENCE 24TH MARCH 2011 IMPERIAL HOTEL KISUMU

Prof. J. R. Aluoch, Hon. Conference Organizing Committee Chairman, Kenya Association of Physicians, Distinguished Pro. P. A. NyongoParticipants, Ladies and Gentlemen.

Mr. Chairman, it gives me pleasure to join you this morning to give a key note address during the 15th Kenya Association of Physician Annual Scientific Conference here in Kisumu County. First, I would like to thank Prof. J. R. Aluoch and his able team for inviting me to join you today to share with you the government policies and strategies in providing healthcare to Kenyans. The theme of the Conference is timely one: ‘Challenges in Management of Communicable and non communicable diseases in a resource constraint setting’.

This reminds me of the tough debate on the United States policy on affordable healthcare which has resulted into a number of publications on how to improve medical coverage, healthcare and reduce healthcare costs across the world. I note with appreciation that the Association has brought together leading specialists from the public, private and faith based organizations to share knowledge and skills with a view to providing quality healthcare in the country. Indeed, an Annual General Meeting such as this is a wonderful opportunity to take stock and to see where you have been and to plan where you must go. In 2 addition, you are meeting at an opportune time in the history of healthcare in this country when the ministries of health are developing a policy framework to guide service delivery in the country as per the Constitution. I do believe that the outcome of your deliberations will inform the policy framework development.

Ladies and Gentlemen; The focus of the Ministry has been to eradicate all communicable and non communicable diseases through strengthening primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare services. In this respect, we have made considerable efforts as a Government in the last eight years. For instance, child mortality has reduced to 74 deaths per 1,000 live births, improved maternal health and reduced HIV/AIDS prevalence to 7.4 percent up from 14 percent and reduced malaria mortality in the country.

The above notwithstanding, per capita health sector spending stands at US$14 compared to US$34 recommended by World Health Organization, as a percent of Central Government expenditure it stands at nine (9) percent as opposed to fifteen (15) percent agreed by the Heads of States and Government during the Abuja Declaration.

With these disparities, twenty three (23) percent of the sick in Kenya do not seek treatment, while households’ expenditure through out of pocket accounts for forty five (45) percent of the total health expenditure. In order to address these disparities, the Government is committed to fulfilling its responsibilities in providing quality health care to all Kenyans with particular emphasis in reducing inequalities to access and care.

The Policy of the Government has been to use healthcare insurance to cover more than 13.5 million adult Kenyans and their dependants in order to make healthcare services affordable to the entire Kenyan population. While those in the formal sector have statutory national insurances cover, over 11 million adults and their dependants in the informal sector have no health insurance cover resulting to large proportion of our population without access to healthcare services. This segment of the population requires our collective and concerted effort to bring them on board. This could be done through reduction of out-of pocket expenditure and establishment of a social health insurance scheme.

Ladies and Gentlemen

The right to access healthcare services including reproductive health services is guaranteed in our Constitution. This right to health is indispensable to realizing the rights to life and dignity for all people. The barriers to realize this right include the need for new scientific technologies to prevent, diagnose and treat all illnesses, the strengthening of public health systems through investment and support and the need to ensure access to clean water, nutrition, decent shelter and evidence-based public education. The high costs of healthcare places burdens on everyone including households and the sick persons.

Mr. Chairman

In Health sector our outcome is to have “a long and healthy life for all Kenyans”. Our key objective is to increase the life expectancy of our citizens and ensure that all people have access to healthcare. The key outputs in this regard are to reduce the mortality rate, reduce the impact and prevalence of HIV and Aids and Tuberculoses, and to ensure an effective health care system. To achieve these outputs, our key activities include ensuring a well coordinated health system with special focus on communicable and non communicable diseases.

As a ministry, we are aware of the increasing burden of communicable and non communicable diseases due to poverty, inadequate resources, equipment and infrastructure. The policy directions to address these diseases include the following:

  1. Better health Financing system - Health systems will not automatically gravitate towards greater efficiency or greater equity in access. Unless deliberate steps are taken, steady advances in medical care will continue to benefit the privileged few. The poor will continue to be excluded from basic essential care. And the gaps in outcomes will grow wider.The present system of healthcare financing can no longer be allowed to go on, because it is simply unsustainable. As a ministry we have proposed for a social health insurance scheme to carter for the poor and vulnerable people.
  2. Quality Services - The question that we need to answer is how can the citizens be assured of high quality healthcare? This calls for regular monitoring and supervision of services delivery, training and capacity building of the service providers.
  3. Revitalization of health infrastructure - Infrastructures are the formal and enduring structures that support public health. There is an urgent need to arrest the deterioration of our hospital buildings and equipment throughout the country.
  4. Automation - With the constant pressure to increase the quality of patient care and the desire to provide quality services ministry policy is to embrace use of e-health and telemedicine to link patients, specialists and clinicians, thus extending the reach of healthcare.
  5. Better leadership and management of hospitals – This is required to demonstrate better results from existing resources. These results, in turn, make it more feasible for additional resources to be made available to healthcare.

Mr. Chairman, with these remarks, it is now my pleasure to declare officially open the 15th Kenya Association of Physicians Annual Scientific Conference.

Thank You!

Hon. Prof. P. A. Nyong’o
EGH, MP Minister for Medical Services