Invest in primary healthcare to achieve UHC, Nyong'o tells state

Advises state to motivate community health workers to improve services at primary level

In Summary

• Governor advises on the need to strengthen hospitals to provide accessible specialised services. 

• He says more funds should be put into treating uncomplicated illnesses in dispensaries. 

Kisumu Governor Anyang Nyong’o and his wife Dorothy Nyong'o
BIG FOUR AGENDA: Kisumu Governor Anyang Nyong’o and his wife Dorothy Nyong'o

The government has been urged to invest more funds in primary healthcare to realise universal health coverage. 

Kisumu Governor Anyang' Nyong’o said the UHC cannot be achieved with a weak primary health care system. He said more funds are needed for prevention of illnesses at the community and for treatment of uncomplicated illnesses at dispensaries and health centres.

“Our hospitals should be left to handle complex clinical problems. In order to achieve UHC, we must deliberately invest in community health services and primary health facilities,” Nyong’o said.

During the third UHC conference in Kisumu last week, he said community health workers have worked as volunteers for long.

Nyong'o said the remuneration of CHWs has raised discussions at various levels. There is a need to motivate them by giving better stipends and facilitating their work effectively, he said.

“My government has for the first time paid CHWs a monthly stipend of Sh2,500 and subscribed them into the National Hospital Insurance Fund Supa Cover scheme,” he said.

He praised the national government for allocating money to the pilot counties to finance CHW activities, which include community action days, community dialogue days and additional training. The counties are Kisumu, Nyeri, Isiolo and Machakos.

The county is using the hub-and-spoke model to define health services. In this model, hospitals act as hubs while health centres and dispensaries are spokes.

Nyong'o wants the hospitals strengthened to ensure specialised services are available and accessible.

Kisumu has set up operating theatres in two subcounties and plans to build another four in other subcounties.

This has relieved residents from other subcounties who would travel long distances to access these services, Nyong’o said.

Cancer centre

Many people still suffer as they seek cancer services, especially radiotherapy, as there are some specialised services that are still scarce in Western Kenya.

“Most of them have to go to Nairobi and Uganda. They face very long queues and delays to access radiotherapy,” the county chief said.

To avert this crisis, Nyong’o's administration is committed to building a comprehensive cancer centre.

The construction of the Sh1 billion Kisumu Radiotherapy Centre at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital was launched last week.

The building, according to Nyong’o, will help the county to realise comprehensive and high-quality services and management.

The facility will provide chemotherapy, radiotherapy and palliative care to people suffering from cancer, and promote investment in primary prevention and early detection.

“My government has already allocated Sh60 million towards the Sh350 million phase one of the project, which we hope to complete within two years,” Nyong'o said.

He appealed to well-wishers, including other counties, the national government and development partners, to "join me in financing the project".

He said the UHC model that has been piloted abolished cost sharing in health facilities but left out faith-based and private health facilities who are key stakeholders in service delivery.

“There is a need to bring all players on board. The role of health insurance, especially the NHIF, should be clarified,” Nyong’o said.

(Edited by R Wamochie)