KENYA – The Kenyan government has instituted significant health reforms that will revolutionize the country’s healthcare delivery to meet health needs of individuals.
Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe presented a positive outlook for the health sector when he appeared before the Senate Health Committee alongside Chief Administrative Secretary Dr. Mercy Mwangangi and other senior officials from the ministry of health.
On cancer care, Mutahi Kagwe said the government has identified priority areas based on the country’s disease burden and developed targeted interventions to deal with emerging challenges.
He said that Kenya has established world class infrastructure to provide better healthcare services for cancer patients in public health facilities.
The government recently launched the Integrated Molecular Imaging Centre (IMIC) at Kenyatta University Teaching, Referral and Research Hospital (KUTRRH) to increase the capacity of the hospital to offer comprehensive cancer care.
The Center entails cancer prevention, screening, diagnosis, treatment, survivorship and palliative care to fill the cancer care gap in the country.
“Since January of this year, we have treated over 200 cancer patients who would otherwise have gone to India were it not for the fact that we have the Integrated Molecular Center at KUTRRH,” he outlined.
He further said that the government is engaging foreign governments, state and non-state actors to enhance the capacity of the country’s healthcare workers in an effort to improve cancer treatment and related services.
“The government in partnership with KUTRH, Kisii university and the Christie Institute in the United Kingdom is currently working to increase exponentially the number of skilled personnel,” he told the Senate Health Committee.
Moreover, there is an ongoing push to redesign the curriculum of health professionals to respond to technological advancements and changing health care needs
The Health Cabinet Secretary assured that the cancer taskforce is expected, within the next one month, to come up with a comprehensive structure of how cancer is going to be managed in the country.
The Health Ministry has also established the Director General for Health at the ministry position in a new structure through a revised organizational structure and staff establishment submitted to the Public Service Commission for concurrence.
“The process of appointing a substantive office holder will commence immediately upon receiving formal communication from the Public Service Commission on the improved structure and staff establishment,” explained Dr. Mercy Mwangangi.
On the state of mental health in Kenya amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Mutahi Kagwe reaffirmed that the country is currently better positioned to deal with the health challenge.
The Kenyan government is collaborating with Group San Donato, the largest hospital group in Europe, to build a facility that is projected to be the cornerstone of national mental health reforms.
Kagwe further asserted that the mental health center of excellence will be the focal point and driver in organizing the new national mental care model in the country.
The center is expected to be a national education and training hub for mental health through providing specialized post-graduate and professional training for multiple professional specializations as well as disciplines in mental health.
The project comes at the right time when the country has witnessed a rise in the number of mental disorders in recent years since statistics indicate that approximately 20-25 percent of outpatients seeking primary healthcare present symptoms of mental illness.
A taskforce on mental health which was inaugurated in December 2019 has recommended a raft of measures including declaring mental health a national emergency.
The taskforce has also suggested the establishment of a mental health and happiness commission to advise, coordinate and continuously monitor the status of mental health as well as report on the annual National Happiness Index.
In addition, the Ministry of Health developed a mental health policy (2015-2030) and unveiled the quality rights initiative that seeks to improve access to quality mental health services and promote the rights of people with mental health conditions.