Healthcare System in Kenya

The healthcare system in Kenya consists of three subsystems, namely the commercial private sector, faith-based organizations, and the public sector. The public sector in Kenya has the highest number of healthcare facilities followed by the private sector then the faith-based sector. Even though several health-oriented non-governmental organizations operate in the country, the population served by these organizations is quite small as compared to the other sectors. Depending on their comparative advantage in different areas of the country, the non-governmental organizations, faith-based, and community-based organizations undertake specific health services which are supported by the Ministry of Health and external donors.

The Ministry of Health is mainly responsible for formulating health policy, developing strategic health plan, coordinating partners, mobilizing resources, and building facilities. In the public sector, the ministry is responsible for providing health service to the population. It is also accountable for delivering services and thus complements the private and faith-based sectors. Additionally, the ministry supports healthcare missions, trains nurses and other staff for healthcare institutions, engage in provision of drugs and vaccines.

Healthcare facilities in Kenya are staffed by nurses and doctors with a ratio of 4 to 1 on average. They offer services such as primary preventive and curative services for children and adults, reproductive healthcare, and surgical services in some facilities with surgeons.

Kenya has proved to be among countries that have embraced information technology generally and in the healthcare sector. The nation has comprehensive e-health strategies and a multi-billion USD turnover of mobile money payment (M-PESA) that patients use to pay for their healthcare services. Other healthcare services like eLearning, telemedicine, Hospital Information System, and Health Management Information Systems are rapidly gaining popularity in the country. Despite the popularity in the use of information technology in the healthcare system, there is a demand for quality and affordable medical devices, especially in the public sector. Most people are forced to spend a lot of money to access specific services that are only available in private hospitals in Kenya.

In spite of significant advances in promoting awareness of health and wellness in the country, preventable diseases such as malaria remain a serious concern. There is a recent increase in malaria-related death cases, especially in children and woman. Also, despite the reduction in new cases of HIV infection, many families are affected by AIDS.

The shortage of qualified medical professions, poor sanitation in urban areas, lack of affordable healthcare in rural communities, and lack of access to the primary health care are among the major problems facing the healthcare system in Kenya.