Falling numbers in malaria infections, improved mortality rate for children under five and improved decline in deaths of women giving birth have done Kenya good.
These factors have placed the country top on the list of 47 World Health Organisation member countries in Africa where a good range of available essential health services are offered.
A WHO State of Health in Africa report, which provides a comprehensive overview of the region, says Kenya is among countries in Africa where good practices can be explored across different areas of health.
Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and even South Sudan, which has faced protracted civil war, were mentioned as having improved on service delivery, putting the region on track towards attaining the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals on healthcare.
The report, launched last week by Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO’s regional director for Africa in Dakar at a side event of the 68th session of the WHO Regional Committee for Africa, Kenya’s overall utilisation of health and health-related services to reach the SDGs is at 64 per cent of what is feasible in the region, still much higher than the regional average of 48 per cent.
The report also checks on related services, the performance of health systems and what impacts these have on health in the region.
There is, however, a need to accelerate ongoing interventions to address service availability, financial risk protection, health security and service responsiveness focusing on the hard to reach populations
Further, Kenya needs to improve access to services, quality of care, and specifically target hard-to-reach populations.
There is also a need to increase investment in the health workforce and medicines.
Rwanda was not badly off as it also surpassed the regional’s target to achieve 56 per cent of the SDGs.
The country has significantly advanced universal health coverage with its community-based health insurance programme.
Care for citizens is subsidised, allowing Rwandans to pay for services based on a tiered premium system pegged on one’s socio-economic standing.
This coverage is further enabled by the Rwandan governance structures with -government agencies being made responsible for policy formulation and regulation while the districts handle local planning and delivery.
Funding for health care is decentralised to district level to ensure the widest reach possible.
Health centres are given financial autonomy to plan activities according to their needs and the needs of the community.
But WHO recommends that the country introduces innovative approaches to improve health security for all, and target hard-to-reach sections of the population.
Uganda scored slightly below the region’s average at 46 per cent. The recommendations were the same as those for Kenya and Rwanda.
South Sudan performed well below the region’s average and managed 38 per cent.
Although there are many organisations helping to rebuild the country, many humanitarian needs remain unmet. Communities lack access to basic healthcare services.
The situation is particularly difficult in the north, close to the border with Sudan.
Recent fighting in the area has directly impacted availability and price of food, contributing to an increase in child deaths from malnutrition.