Closing Speech - DR. JAMES O GESAMI

THE OFFICIAL CLOSING SPEECH AT THE CLOSING CEREMONY OF KENYA ASSOCIATION OF PHYSICIANS 15TH ANNUAL SCIENTIFIC CONFERENCE KISUMU 26TH MARCH 2011 BY HON. DR. JAMES O GESAMI ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR PUBLIC HEALTH & SANITATION:

Prof. J. O. JOWI Hon. National Chairman, Kenya Association of Physicians, Prof. J. R. Aluoch, Hon. Chairman, Conference Organizing Committee, Distinguished Participants , Ladies and Gentlemen

Ladies and Gentlemen it gives me great pleasure to grace this auspicious occasion, the 15th Annual Scientific Conference 2011,Dr. James Gesami being held in Kisumu city. I have been made aware that amongst this gallery are physicians from all over the Republic of Kenya and are drawn from both the Public and Private Sector. Amongst you are general physicians and those who have sub-specialized in various disciplines of internal medicine.

I am told that you have covered a wide array of topics in various disciplines of medicine and a lot of fruitful discussions have taken place.

I would like to commend KAP for starting a trend of honoring pioneer physicians like the late Professor Thomas Ogada who taught many of the participants in this room and also contributed a lot to the field of medicine in this country. I must congratulate the Kenya Medical Dentist and Practitioners Board for making it mandatory for Clinicians to attend an agreed number of continuous medical education (CME) to renew ones practicing licenses. To this effect, the KAP has taken up the challenge and has been organizing regular CMES for its members.

The theme for this Conference is: “Challenges in management of communicable and non-communicable diseases in resource constrained settings”.

This is very relevant and timely as Kenya falls into the category of a resource constrained setting. Kenya, unlike many developed nations suffers from the double burden of diseases; communicable diseases such as Malaria, Typhoid and Cholera and Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as Diabetes, Hypertension, Stroke Cancers and many more.

Unfortunately Kenya has for a long time laid more emphasis on communicable diseases. As you know Kenya as a member of the WHO is committed towards attaining the MDGs mainly 4, 5 and 6 as outlined in the 2nd National Health Strategic Plan 2005 – 2010. In this commitment, tremendous effort has been made towards attaining these MDGs with some degree of success. It is of concern though, to note that Kenya is experiencing challenges towards attaining these targets within the stipulated time frame.

Some of the challenges include:

  • Inadequate funding
  • Lack of investment in health system infrastructure and equipment for many years, resulting in not keeping up with modern development.
  • Lack of comprehensive policy frame work addressing issues of NCDS and neglected tropical diseases.
  • Lack of sufficient accurate data collection through the health management information systems to assist in planning for care.
  • The supply chain management of commodities has been unable to cope with the demands of the Health System.
  • Lack of adequately trained human resource with skewed distribution of health care workers to urban rather than rural settings where 70% of Kenyans reside.
  • Diagnostic equipment is either absent, outdated or in state of despair.

Ladies and Gentlemen I am glad to say that in addressing these challenges, the government has done the following:

  • Expanded the KMTC to all parts of this country making it possible to increase the number of health care workers.
  • The Ministry has signed MOUs with various Universities that include, Maseno, Jomo Kenyatta, Aga khan to use its hospital to train more doctors.
  • In terms of policy, last year the diabetic strategy was launched. The cancer bill and strategy are both ready to be launched.
  • After the findings of the task force, KEMSA has been re-organized and capitalized to fulfill its mandate of supply chain management more efficiently.
  • New hospital, Kayole district hospital has been built and through various projects like SIMED, 23 hospitals are being renovated and supplied with modern diagnostic equipment.
  • Proposals to restructure the National Hospital Insurance Fund to cater for clients more comprehensibly including outpatient cover and offer social protection for the poor.
  • Outreach programs by specialists into lower levels of care have been established and are ongoing.
  • Partnerships like the one between Moi teaching and referral (MTRH) and AMPATH, have been very successful in providing care for patients living with HIV and AIDS in Western Kenya and are now venturing into chronic care that includes NCDs.
  • Two level 5 hospitals (Coast and Nakuru) have been equipped with specialized services like renal hemodialysis. 
  • Diabetic comprehensive care clinics have been established at level five hospitals.

I am happy to hear that KAP 15th Annual Scientific Conference has discussed some of these pertinent issues and suggested ways and means of mitigating some these challenges. I would like to encourage KAP and likeminded Professional Associations to collaborate more with the ministries of health to address health related issues to improve health care in this country.

With this remarks I declare this conference officially closed.