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More Kenyans access better health services, says top health official

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By TF News Reporter

An estimated 39.5 million Kenyans have benefited from better health and nutrition services being provided by the government with the support of the World Bank and other development partners.Health secretaty Mr James Macharia and Ms Diarietou Gaye, World Bank Country Director for KenyaHealth secretaty Mr James Macharia and Ms Diarietou Gaye, World Bank Country Director for Kenya

More than half of these beneficiaries were females, according to the Ministry of Health’s health management information data.

The joint efforts of the Government and the Bank through the Kenya Health Sector Support Project have enabled us to make significant progress towards achieving universal health coverage, with priority focus on the needy population, “said James Macharia, the Cabinet Secretary for Health, during a joint media briefing Wednesday.

“This nation-wide project has strengthened the capacity of health systems in all the 47 counties and shifted attention to results which will help Kenya achieve the “health Millennium Development Goals.”

The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved $100 million (Sh8.5 billion) for the project in June 2010 and an additional $ 56.8 million in December 2011.

The Board approved further additional financing of $41 million in December 2013.The additional International Development Agency (IDA) credit is accompanied by a US$20 million grant from the Health Results Innovation Trust Fund, which is supported by the United Kingdom and Norway and helps countries to sharpen their focus on health results.

According to the bank, the initial funding has supported reforms for improving the delivery of essential health services, especially to poor Kenyans, and to increase the efficiency of planning, procurement and the management of pharmaceuticals and medical supplies.

It says with the additional credit, the Government will sustain health and nutrition services to as many as 35 million people by 2016. It is expected that half of the beneficiaries will be women, about 16 per cent of them living in drought-prone areas.

“The health sector reforms being implemented by the Government will move Kenya closer to universal health coverage, so that all Kenyans benefit from decent health services, regardless of where they live and how much they earn, “said Diarietou Gaye, World Bank Country Director for Kenya.

“Our support will help ensure that counties develop the capacity to deliver quality health services to the poor and vulnerable people, who most urgently need these services.”

The project will scale up an approach known as Results-Based financing which pays frontline health facilities based on the quality and quantity of services they provide. This approach has helped deliver rapid improvements in several other African countries.

There have been promising early results for women and children in Samburu County, where the Results-Based Financing approach was first tested. The approach will soon be extended to 20 more counties in Kenya’s arid and semi-arid areas, where access to quality health services is generally weak, and public-private partnership is key.

“As Kenya’s counties adjust to the decentralized way of working, the project will build their capacity to identify and manage key priorities at the county level, which can vary depending on the particular challenges in each county,” said Ramana Gandham, the World Bank’s Lead Health Specialist for Kenya.

The project will also support health insurance subsidies for poor people during the first phase of Kenya’s universal health coverage.

He says high out-of-pocket expenses currently prevent more than half the country’s poor households from accessing services they need, lowering their income and productivity. The project will also support improved county capacity for delivering effective health services.

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