Amref Health Africa in Kenya was among key actors and stakeholders discussing various perspectives in policy formulation and investment in the Lake Region Economic Bloc Inaugural International Health Investment Conference.
The Lake Region Economic Bloc is made up of 13 counties namely: Bomet, Bungoma, Busia, Homabay, Kakamega, Kericho, Kisii, Kisumu, Migori, Nyamira, Siaya, Trans-Nzoia and Vihiga.
The conference, held in Kisii County, Kenya brought together governors from the 13 counties that make the Bloc; County Executive Committees for Health; County Directors of Health; national Ministry of Health officials; international and local investors in the health sector; medical equipment manufacturers; Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs); and finance institutions focusing on strengthening health systems.
“This collaboration between the 13 counties in the Lake Region Economic Bloc, which has about 15 million people, is commendable. It enables the improvement of health services across jurisdictions through cross border employment of experts, distribution of resources, and also sharing of best practices” stated Dr Cleopas Mailu , the Cabinet Secretary (CS) Ministry of Health in Kenya who was the chief guest.
Dr Mailu noted that the 13 counties in the bloc contribute to 50% of the national HIV burden in the country, acknowledging the need for these counties to double their efforts in accelerating HIV prevention and reduction. The CS went further and promised that the Government of Kenya would continue working with the private sector, and any other partners, to compliment national and county efforts in health care.
“As the government, we also acknowledge that building resilient health systems with the right attributes requires long term political, social and economic stability. In adopting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we plan to incorporate universal health coverage and expand access to affordable and quality health care services,” added Dr Mailu.
Amref Health Africa in Kenya implements over nine projects in the Lake Region Economic Bloc and has partnered with the counties in the bloc to save the lives of mothers and children. malaria prevalence rate in the region is high at 38% per cent while infant and child mortality is at 15% . However, skilled delivery has improved from 45.3 % to 61% over the last five years due to the impact of Amref Health Africa projects. projects touch on HIV, TB, Malaria, Reproductive and Maternal Health, Nutrition and Advocacy.
During the conference, different panels made up of global health experts, discussed different spectrums of topics including: Health Products and Technology, Health Care Financing, Human Resource for Health, Health Research, and Health Information and ICT Infrastructure.
Peter Ofware, Director, Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health (RMNCAH), and Dr Elizabeth Wala, Regional Manager, Medical Services and Outreach Programmes both of Amref Health Africa contributed to panel discussions on Private Sector Engagement and Human Resource for Health, respectively. In her presentation, Dr Wala empahasised the need to invest in Human Resources for Health as it remains an important pillar in health system strengthening.
Amref also showcased some of its projects and best practices at an exhibition stand that attracted different delegates including the Secretary General of the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union (KMPDU), several County Executive Committees for Health, and some County Directors of Health.
During the closing ceremony of the conference, former Prime Minister of Kenya, Honourable Raila Amolo Odinga urged the county governments present to be at the forefront of investing in health by embracing technology. “Investing in eHealth provides effective and timely health care services. With eHealth, citizens will get their laboratory reports, appointments and registration online, making work easier for both the patients and the doctors. Health care data will also be well managed,” stated Mr Odinga.
Written by Maureen Cherongis