The health status of people in Kenya has improved significantly, resulting in an increase in life expectancy in good health – time spent in full health – from 50.9 to 53.8 years between 2012 and 2015, the most notable increase recorded in all regions of the world. And as this trend continues, new data on life expectancy in good health showing continuous improvement.
My name is Dr. Tracy Sherman, I am a geriatric specialist and I am proud that Kenyans are now living longer and healthier. Nearly three more years of health, it is a gift that makes us proud. Naturally, we hope to preserve these achievements and to see the Region rise to the level of world standards.
Are we living is a sick nation?
What makes Kenya “sick” is changing. Infections of the lower respiratory tract, HIV and diarrheal diseases remain the leading causes of death in this country. The healthcare board has consistently focused on the prevention and treatment of this trio, often through specialized programs. This has resulted in a significant decrease in deaths attributable to these conditions. The burden of disease caused by the ten most deadly diseases has decreased by 50% since 2000; and the mortality related to these pathologies decreased from 87.7 to 51.1 deaths per 100,000 people between 2000 and 2015.
However, for universal health coverage to become a reality, there is a need to improve the situation with regard to all diseases – not just priority diseases – that affect the health of populations. Chronic conditions such as heart disease and cancer now claim more lives, with one in five people aged 30 to 70 years more likely to die from a non-communicable disease.
Specialty according to groups
In general, countries are failing to provide essential services to two important age groups, namely adolescents and the elderly. As the population ages, older people need health care for them. We have specialized geriatric care systems for this generation with minimized costs.
Health services need to keep pace with health trends in this Region. In the past, we focused on certain diseases because they caused an unusually high number of deaths. We have successfully stopped these threats, but the health of populations is now being challenged by a wide range of conditions. So we need to develop a new and more comprehensive approach to health.
Health systems malfunction
In Kenya, health status is more related to the performance of health systems – the better they work, the more health status is sustainable. However, health systems or the people, institutions and resources needed to deliver health-related services are only used at 49% of the Kenya’s potential capacity. This performance – an integrated measure of countries’ capacity to improve access to services, quality of care, community demand for services and resilience to outbreaks – is low in all dimensions, but especially in guarantee of access to services and outbreak resilience.
Greater investments in health personnel and proximity of health facilities to patients are essential to obtain a good level of access. Unfortunately, on average there are only 2 doctors and 15.5 hospital beds per 10,000 people.
Currently, on average, 39% of health budgets are spent on medical products, while spending on health personnel (14%) and infrastructure (7%) is low. An analysis of spending patterns suggests that countries with high performing health systems spend up to 40% of their investments on staff and 33% on infrastructure.
Development objectives in the field of health
Kenya is committed to ensuring a healthy life and to promoting well-being for all ages, as well as to achieving a series of health goals by 2030. We are putting more focus on the performance of the systems in order to achieve cross-cutting and sustainable improvements in universal health coverage and other sustainable development targets and targets affecting health.