The Kenya Health Agenda Forum (the Forum) is an innovation of the Leading High-Performing Healthcare Organisations (LeHHO) Program that brings together, for the first time, regulators, policy makers, practitioners, and private sector participants in the health sector under one body to discuss and shape important issues in the health sector in Kenya. The Forum was crafted by Cohort 3 members during a retreat organized by the LeHHO program with a goal of creating an umbrella body that would assist its members in developing cooperative approaches to the noted existing and emerging issues.
In a talk from Cohort 3 alumni to Cohort 4 participants, the founding members of the Forum noted that there were several powerful associations in the Health Sector but there was not one body under which areas of overlapping strategic interest to all these bodies could be discussed. This was against a backdrop of developing issues that would require combined leadership in crafting effective responses to these significant challenges. These challenges were broad in nature and cover such areas as access to healthcare services and facilities; management and development of facilities; regulation of facilities, professionals and related standards; healthcare financing; human resources and related capacities; support of developing policy, legal and regulatory framework; responses to nationwide challenges; among others. One of the founding members in this talk further noted, for instance, the advocacy power of the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Kenya (ICPAK) and its ability to provide officially communicated advice to relevant government bodies on the budget. While the interests of the Forum were yet to be solidified, there was a desire among the founding members to create a similar influential body that would provide thought leadership and action in the healthcare sector.
Cohort 3 members in creating this Forum were acting on the observation of the importance of networking, thinking together, and sharing experiences with the benefit of objective opinion and idea exchange. Because the LeHHO program, in its modules and class structure provided a space where these discussions were possible, many felt the need to continue this thinking. In addition, one of the more significant advantages of the LeHHO program was the ability to meet colleagues in a setting where they could exchange ideas freely and build relationships that would support joint achievement of mandates. Using a cooperative approach, founding members felt that they would be in a better position to offer solutions, or at the very least shape the debates around the solutions together.
As with all nascent innovations, the Kenya Health Agenda Forum and its members require significant support in clarifying the key areas of focus and the modalities of operation. With support from MSH and SBS, founding members were making regular presentations to LeHHO alumni and attracting commitments to energize the Forum. Using the success of the LeHHO recruitment program, which primarily focuses on experience sharing to create interest and buy-in among target groups, the Kenya Health Agenda Forum was attending and hosting a number of breakfast meetings to expand membership of alumni.
In a meeting of the Forum, sponsored by MSH (through USAID) and SBS, members of cohort 3 decided on action items that would provide the momentum for the body. Among these were: the need to clarify the vision of the Forum, outline specific key areas of focus, craft programmatic responses or interventions, and begin the work that would realize this vision.
While the story of the Kenya Health Agenda Forum is shaping itself, this innovation is testament to the inspiring action of the program. Cohort 3 members, in bringing the Forum to fruition, were providing solutions and leadership around an area of passion. Given its expressed plans, the Forum will no doubt be an influence in the health sector in the near future.