BROKEN SYSTEM

Healthcare for mothers and children poor – report

They receive less than 50 per cent of recommended clinical interventions

In Summary

• One in three patients receives disrespectful care and abuse when they visit health care facilities.

• Only 25 per cent of Kenyans think the health system is working well, while 18 per cent think it needs to be completely rebuilt.

First Lady Margaret Kenyatta and Health CS Silicy Kariuki during the launch of the report on April 11, 2019
First Lady Margaret Kenyatta and Health CS Silicy Kariuki during the launch of the report on April 11, 2019
Image: COURTESY

Mothers and children in Kenya receive less than 50 per cent of the recommended clinical interventions in a typical preventive or curative visit, a new study shows.

A report by Lancet further shows that less than 50 per cent of suspected cases of tuberculosis are correctly managed.

Additionally, fewer than one in 10 people diagnosed with major depressive disorders receive adequate treatment.

“Diagnoses are frequently incorrect for serious conditions such as pneumonia, myocardial infarction and newborn asphyxia,” the report says.

Care can be too slow for conditions that require timely action, reducing the chances of survival, it says.

The report released on Thursday says only 25 per cent of Kenyans think the health system is working well, while 18 per cent think it needs to be completely rebuilt. 

“One in three patients receive disrespectful care and abuse when they visit health care facilities, short consultation time, poor communication or long waiting time during hospital visits,” the report says.

Health providers perform only half or less of recommended clinical actions for common preventive and curative care.

According to the report, one in five patients on antiretroviral therapy stop treatment each year.

Releasing the report, Lancet Global Health Commission chair Margaret Kruk said high quality systems require consistency, should be valued and trusted by all and should effectively respond to the population's changing needs.

“Quality is worst among the poor because they have more health needs. Low quality health systems defeat quick fixes,” Kruk said.

The report also shows that delivery in primary health facilities is problematic as complications are likely to occur unexpectedly and the complications often require advanced skills which the facilities lack.

The facilities lack amenities such as blood banks and have a slow referral system.

The report says poor quality care is now a bigger barrier to reducing mortality than insufficient access.

The Health CS Sicily Kariuki speaking during the launch noted that substandard care wastes significant resources and reduces productivity.

“We acknowledge that there are gaps between the desired quality of care and what is practiced. On the converse, high-quality health systems globally have a great impact in averting deaths such as preventing a million newborn deaths and 900,000 deaths from tuberculosis amongst others,” Kariuki said.

The CS said the Linda Mama initiative has seen a 35 per cent increase of deliveries in public health facilities.

The report recommends that the government should start by establishing a national quality guarantee for health services, specifying the level of competence and user experience that people can expect.

“To ensure that all people benefit from improved services, expansion should prioritise the poor and their health needs from the start.

The report says the poor, less educated, adolescents, those living with disability and those at the edge of health systems like those in prisons are the worst hit.