Makueni County government has been on the forefront of development and service delivery to its people with access to healthcare being its main agenda. The county is now in the verge of testing an innovative capacity building model in collaboration with Amref and Philips. The project seeks to improve access to health care for over 20,000 people in the county as Corporate Watch magazine’s Catherine Muema reports.
The Makueni County Government is set to study the outsourcing of operations of three primary health clinics in the county following a recently concluded agreement with Amref Health Africa. Under the agreement, Amref Health Africa will offer capacity building and health worker training working with Philips, who is responsible for providing the health system infrastructure and the medical equipment in the clinics.
Makueni County will be responsible for policy, regulation, and quality management. The Dutch development bank FMO provides legal and business expertise.
The model will be tested at three facilities in Makueni County – Emali, Matiku and Tutini. The study will run for one year during which it is expected to improve access to high-quality, financially sustainable primary health care.
Speaking during the signing ceremony, Makueni County Minister of Health Dr Andrew Mulwa said the goal of the study is to significantly improve access to health care for 20,000 residents.
“This new and innovative approach of outsourcing operations of primary health clinics to non-government actors is a first of its kind model in Kenya and can revolutionise health care in Makueni, leading to positive health impact and more financially-sustainable care,” said Dr Mulwa.
Dr Mulwa said that despite the increases in the number of health facilities in recent years the county remains challenged by ill-equipped and understaffed clinics and services. “The feasibility study will provide additional options for primary health care services to the growing population and promote accessibility to health services,” he said.
Amref Health Africa Group CEO, Dr Githinji Gitahi, said the collaboration with Philips and Makueni County is directed towards the global organisation’s vision of lasting health change in Africa.
“The primary care system in Kenya is not efficient and not able to serve the needs of the population. The system is often challenged by a lack of sustainable funding, poorly-equipped facilities, erratic supply chains, and shortages of trained health care professionals. Lasting improvements to the health care system require innovative partnerships among government, private sector and non-governmental organisations,” said Dr Gitahi.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), strengthening primary care is the most efficient, fair, and cost-effective way to achieve health impacts. In addition, in line with the WHO, Kenya Vision 2030, and the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta identified universal health coverage as one of his “Big Four” objectives for the coming five years.
The Philips Foundation supported the design of a primary health care model that aims to improve the quality and access to primary care in a financially sustainable and scalable manner.
Over the past five years, Philips and Amref Health Africa have collaborated to improve health care systems in Africa, moving from a donor-based relationship to a shared value partnership that leverages the skills and capabilities of each organisation.