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World Economic Forum: Exploring Leapfrogging Opportunities In Kenya’s Health Sector

  Sep 25, 2015

The World Economic forum in conjunction with Strathmore Business School- Institute of Healthcare Management, was a convene of health practitioners as the forum explored developmental facets in health which technological innovations would aid the country leap frog.

The convention which took place on the 18th of September delved into some of the challenges the health sector is currently battling with, with its objectives traversing from; sharing leapfrogging approaches in developing health systems, establish initiatives with leapfrogging potential in Kenya, identify priority areas in health where financially sustainable public-private cooperation can be achieved, among others. These objectives were curtailed into four components, namely: Innovations in HIV/AIDS Prevention, Maternal Health and Primary Care, Prevention of Non- Communicable Diseases and Health Systems Financing.

Opening up the forum, Dr. Gilbert Kokwaro challenged the attendees in looking at new perspectives when it came to addressing problems in Africa, especially in development leapfrogging agendas. “What is Africa’s biggest problem? It is simply, missed opportunities. Leapfrogging requires a new perspective, and it’s my hope that this convention will foster new outlooks.”

Mathieu Lamiaux, Senior Partner Head of the Healthcare, Practice for Europe, Africa looked into the concept of Leapfrogging in Kenya. He remarked that approaches which may work in other countries, may fail to work in Kenya, and hence, leapfrogging would need more tailor made approaches, as compared to general outlooks. The main question is, would it work for Kenya? Health in Kenya has been a success story for the last decade. HIV is still the main cause of death in Kenya, but has since recorded a declined 50% within the last decade.

Providers in the private sector should look into public sectors solutions, and look into the means and ways in which they can collaborate. This should not only be a matter of re-inventing the wheel for the sake of it, but it should be to provide better solutions which can improve health accessibility.

Kenya’s health expenditure is lagging behind Sub Saharan Africa’s average expenditure. Lack of resources has constrained Kenya’s health system, which makes leapfrogging a proper approach. Donor funding has been the main resource for health expenditure, with an increasing dependence on foreign aid. It is very challenging to keep on looking at one resource.

So far, 5.9% is being allocated for health expenditure, but when it trickles down to the counties, what goes into the health system is actually less. The strategy of the county government is much more operational that strategic on the funding, and that is the reason as to why private public partnership could be the next big move for health in Kenya.

Meschack Ndolo, Country Director, Intra- Health, looked at some of the challenges facing the battle of HIV/AIDS, highlighting three main limitations; the cost of care, medicine availability and staff qualification. Achieving the 2030 objectives would require 70% extra funding. HIV care and treatment is difficult for people living with HIV through conflict-torn counties with a fragile health system.

Ties Kroezen, Venture Manager, Philips Healthcare, took the audience through their innovation in making Primary healthcare accessible. Community life, a Philips innovation in Partnership with Kiambu Health Center, has been instrumental in improving primary healthcare services, through innovations such as: Solar panels which can provide electricity, a maternity wing, and primary provision of health services. Maternal mortality has declined, though it is still very far from the attainment of the national millennium developmental goals.

Health is a crucial pillar in Africa, as well as Kenya. With a vibrant innovation culture in Kenya, a leapfrogging approach may see Kenya overcome great challenges in its health systems.

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