KEPSA’s Health Sector Board, Kenya Healthcare Federation (KHF) hosted the 8th East Africa Healthcare Federation (EAHF) Conference in Kenya, at Safari Park Hotel in Nairobi, from 5th to 6th September 2019. The conference brought together private health sector federation from 7 East Africa region countries including Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, Burundi, Rwanda, South Sudan and Kenya.
The theme of the conference was; From Strategy to Action: Advancing Health Systems in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) era. It covered in-depth thematic areas including: Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) and multi-sectoral engagements for health; Role of the private sector players in achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC); New frontiers in healthcare service delivery; Medicines and healthcare products; Emerging Technologies for health (ICT, Digital health, Telemedicine and E-health); Human resolution for health: Attracting, retaining and sustaining health workforce and Innovative approaches for quality healthcare.
Speaking during the opening ceremony, the Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Health, Hon. Sicily Kariuki, applauded EAHF for creating a platform where health practitioners, business innovators and government across the East Africa region can collaborate towards achieving UHC. “The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) represent a fundamental paradigm shift and acknowledges the role of the private sector in the transformation of people’s lives, both economically and socially in various ways including improved health outcomes. However, sustained investments are required to leverage the gains made and to ensure the fast-tracking of the SDGs Agenda,” She remarked.
Hon. Kariuki added that the global health community and the East Africa region has recorded remarkable progress in key health indicators towards the health-related SDGs, especially in reducing under-5 mortality, increasing the coverage of HIV 3 treatment and reducing cases of and deaths from tuberculosis. “Kenya has made great strides towards improving the health of its citizenry over the past decade. Kenya registered a commendable decrease in Maternal rate down to 362/100,000 population thereby averting 2000 maternal deaths per year. Likewise, under-five mortality has reduced by over 50%. Over the same period, HIV prevalence has reduced from 6 percent to 4.9 percent; TB treatment success rate increased from 80 to 90 percent, Malaria prevalence for under-fives reduced to 8 percent from 13 percent,” She added.
The CS stated that the Kenyan Government is committed to ensuring healthy lives and promoting the well-being of all its citizens regardless of their age as articulated in the third SDG. The delivery of quality, equitable and responsive healthcare services is most effectively done by adopting a health systems perspective. In addition, she reiterated that PPP in health complements government’s delivery of services and advocated strongly for a win-win situation between private and public partners to fast-track the achievement of SDG goal No. 3.
KEPSA Deputy CEO, Ms. Rachel Muthoga, in her remarks urges participants to build on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) partnership to position the region to benefit from the Agreement. She added that this could be done by taking a lead on Health as a service sector and leveraging on medical tourism, building competitive pharmaceuticals manufacturing value chains that will serve the region, among other opportunities. “EAHF provides a good platform for engagement on all these; therefore we need to sustain the momentum and also show our counterparts in the continent the need to have such private to private engagements, private to public, and multi-sectoral – bringing on board all stakeholders including development partners, academia, religious groups, media and civil society on health matters,” Ms. Muthoga remarked.
The EAHF Chair who also doubles as KHF Chair, Dr. Amit Thakker, noted that besides hosting a key regional private healthcare event, EAHF is making great strides towards an inclusive East African Community policy to help the ease of doing business in the region and ultimately increasing healthcare investments and development.
From the discussions on PPP and multisectoral engagements for health, it was clear that PPP is paramount for achieving UHC across the region and EAHF members agreed to move from strategy to action. The following values were noted as important pillars for effective PPP engagement: partnerships, efficiency, dialogues, trust, mutual accountability and entrepreneurship. Representing the private sector in a panel discussion, Dr. Manu Chandaria affirmed that the private sector as it is now does not have the will to invest in healthcare because of lack of corporate responsibility. “There has to be willingness to partner with government and generate genuine action in the response. The cardinal principles of partnerships include ownership, alignment, results and mutual accountability,” Dr. Chandaria remarked.
Enhancing innovative approaches for quality healthcare is another key area that was agreed upon towards improving access to quality healthcare. There was a unanimous agreement that: to achieve the highest gain in healthcare service delivery, there is a need to provide incentives to promote innovations and open space for new innovative ideas to be utilized in enhancing the quality. It also emerged that there is need to ensure compliance with quality standards and statutory regulations. This is with the recognition that different tools tend to measure different aspects of health hence the need for integration to achieve the highest quality. The missing links between innovation and service delivery include among others; The incentive to innovate, transparency and collaboration in the healthcare, innovations around self-regulation, service delivery redesign, feedback information and service rating, accountability and responsiveness.
It was noted that the health workforce in the region is not firmly sustainable, in a panel discussion on Human Resources for Health (attracting, retaining and sustaining of health workforce) there was a unanimous agreement that: A recognition that the government alone has a limited capacity to train and retain all adequate HRH numbers. The private sector should come up and fill the gap to provided training and employment opportunities, There should be laid out procedures to ensure accountability in the health workforce. And put punitive measures for unprofessional behaviour and in the context of achieving UHC, a paradigm shift is needed to adopt family medicine and strategies for home-based care. This will reduce the cost of running health facilities hence amplify the strategies for Human Resource for Health.
The EAHF conference is usually held on rotation and will be held in Rwanda next year having been hosted in Ethiopia last year.