• Most of the population access care at a primary health facility.
• Focus on primary healthcare will reduce the number of referrals, thus reduce congestion at county and national hospitals.
It has almost been one year since President Uhuru Kenyatta launched the Universal Health Coverage pilot project in Kisumu county as one of his Big Four agenda.
As UHC pilot continues in four counties, Health stakeholders identified many challenges that may pose a potential threat to its sustainability in the recent Health forum. A worrying lack of medical equipment in facilities, particularly in local dispensaries, clinics and health centres which are the closest to citizens is a major challenge.
A study indicated higher-level hospitals have better availability of basic equipment as mandated by the government while dispensaries and clinics had the lowest level of basic equipment. This is alarming given that most of the population access care at primary health facilities. The availability of equipment directly affects diagnosis.
This means patients seeking services at primary facilities are exposed to misdiagnosis, which leads to wrong treatment, worsening of the condition and financial burden not just to the patient but the entire family. This goes against the WHO definition of UHC that requires all individuals and communities to receive the health services without suffering financial hardship; which includes quality health services from health promotion to prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and palliative care.
The Health ministry and other stakeholders working on the attainment of UHC should not just focus investments on setting up state of the art healthcare centres but also strengthen local health facilities to boost accuracy in diagnosis and treatment.
This will subsequently limit the number of referrals which congest county and national hospitals and save Kenyans from medical implicated poverty.