By Clifford Akumu

Kenya’s Kericho County government has launched a Smart Primary Health Care Network in its move to transform the healthcare service delivery through the digitization of data.

Speaking during the opening ceremony of the Universal Health Coverage Pre-Mashujaa Conference in Kapkatet Stadium, Kericho County, Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua stressed the potential of integrating digital technology as a tool to power universal health coverage.

He noted that strengthening primary healthcare is the only foundation for a healthier future.

The Deputy President added that the digital health guidelines spearheaded by the Ministry of Health seek to support and strengthen the country’s health care systems.

Establishing the digital system will further boost the county’s strategic and targeted planning, more so in resource allocation towards its health systems.

“Indeed integrating digital technology is one of the best strategies for ensuring efficiency and effectiveness in service delivery,” said Deputy President Gachagua.

He noted that “The Primary Healthcare Network tool, which Kericho County is integrating into its healthcare system, will progressively contribute to data collection on various diseases and other medical conditions.

“Our focus is to reach all Kenyans in this journey of Universal Health Coverage. The integration of the community health unit for visualizing community health referrals is a game-changer.”

Gachagua had earlier got the opportunity to familiarise himself with the workings of community healthcare promoters when he visited Robert Sinei at his home in Kiribati village Cheborgei location Bureti Sub-County.

The visit to households in Kiribati village alongside community health promoters underscored the progress in the country’s journey to build a healthier nation.

Kericho County Governor, Dr Eric Mutai called upon counties to equip their health facilities with commodities

“As council of governors, we are working towards stocking our health facilities regularly with commodities and equipping them with the latest tools to promote access to healthcare,” said Dr. Mutai.

Health Cabinet Secretary Susan Nakhumicha urged governors to prioritise primary healthcare to boost UHC access. She highlighted the potential of primary healthcare to transform the nation’s healthcare landscape

Nakhumicha further noted the role of healthcare promoters as part of the four pillars that will push UHC’s success.

“We have identified four pillars that the ministry is going to use to deliver UHC. You might have all the equipment, and commodities, but if you do not have a healthcare worker it doesn’t work,” she said.

“I am pleased to confirm that all counties have received their community health promotion kits,a crucial step in our commitment to ensure the well-being of every Kenyan.”

Harry Kimtai, Principal Secretary for Medical Services lauded the move noting, “Accessing healthcare services has never been more convenient.”

Deputy President Gachagua commended the over 100,000 Community Health Promoters who hve been driving the UHC agenda in the 47 counties across Kenya.

“You are our heroes. We can’t pay you enough for the splendid work you are already undertaking. We count on your utmost dedication to deliver to Kenyans, the promise of Universal Health Coverage,” added the DP.

Quality healthcare remains out of reach for most families. In fact, only about 26 percent of the more than 53 million Kenyans have some form of health insurance coverage.

He noted that the government is investing in promoting preventive healthcare at the grassroots in collaboration with Counties.

“We are working closely with counties in establishing sustainable structures of promoting preventive health as envisioned under the UHC. In this regard, we allocated Ksh141.2 billion to the Ministry of Health, with at least Ksh18.4 billion going into UHC,” noted Gachagua.

The national government allocated Ksh 210 million to enhance healthcare in Kericho County, according to CS Nakhumicha.

The DP used the occasion to award Kericho County Referral Hospital the level 5 charter to the facility before commissioning the new oncology unit.

He also unveiled Kenya’s first Biosafety Level 3 Reference and Molecular Laboratory at KEMRI Kericho. The lab will become a pivotal national TB reference laboratory, extending support to counties in Kenya’s Rift and Western regions.

Kenya’s government has since initiated a number of reforms in the health sector ahead of the third roll-out of UHC. Some of the reforms include the Primary Healthcare Fund, Social Health Insurance Fund, and the Emergency, Chronic and Critical Illness Fund.

The Digital Health Bill 2023 provides a framework for digital health services, data governance, protection of personal health information, and service delivery through digital health interventions.