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Poor healthcare killed 52,000 in 2016 - study

Care available to the poor substantially worse than that for wealthier people

In Summary

• Quality of care declined for vulnerable and marginalised communities like the less educated and stigmatised groups

• Universal health coverage is not just about eliminating out-of-pocket expenditure but ensuring access to quality services

Health CS Sicily Kariuki and First Lady Margaret Kenyatta during the launch of the Lancet Global Health Commission on High Quality Health Systems in Nairobi on April 11, 2019
FINDINGS: Health CS Sicily Kariuki and First Lady Margaret Kenyatta during the launch of the Lancet Global Health Commission on High Quality Health Systems in Nairobi on April 11, 2019
Image: MAGDALINE SAYA

Some 52,000 Kenyans died in 2016 due to poor healthcare systems.

A report by Lancet says 32,000 of those deaths were due to lack of access and 20,000 due to poor quality of healthcare.

The report commissioned by the Lancet Global Health indicates that health outcomes and quality of care declined for vulnerable and marginalized communities including less educated and stigmatised groups.

The report was released yesterday by Prof Margaret Kruk, chair of Lancet Global Health Commission on High Quality Health Systems. In attendance was First Lady Margaret Kenyatta and Health CS Sicily Kariuki.

“In Kenya, the quality of labour and delivery care was generally low but care available to the poor was substantially worse than that for wealthier people,” the report states.

For example, only 13 to 45 per cent of suspected tuberculosis cases were correctly managed by primary care providers according to the International Standards for Tuberculosis Care guidelines.

The study says the average waiting time is 49 minutes in primary care facilities in Nairobi.

“The report challenges us to raise the bar in our health systems. I believe in quality healthcare and that patients are people who should be handled holistically to be healed,” Kenyatta said.

The report further shows that recent health graduates lack basic clinical skills.

Kruk said universal health coverage is not just about eliminating out-of-pocket expenditure but ensuring access to quality health services.

“Kenyans should be enlightened about what to expect when they visit a healthcare facility. Inputs are not a measure of quality. Kenya should build links with the public and private sector with accountability as the core,” Kruk said.

The First Lady said it is high time attention is paid to quality care so that Kenyans have confidence irrespective of the facility they visit.

“We acknowledge that there are gaps between the desired quality of care and what is practiced. The Lancet report aptly points out the changing health needs, growing public expectations coupled with ambitious new health goals which have raised the bar for the health systems to contribute to better health outcomes and greater social accountability,” the CS Sicily said.

The report proposes that health systems be judged primarily on their impacts, including better health and its equitable distribution, on the confidence of people in their health system, their economic benefit, processes of care consisting of competent care and positive user experience.