Former Premier Raila Odinga has called for a review of Kenya’s healthcare system to wean it from overdependence on donors in the wake of coronavirus pandemic.
The ODM party leader has also decried how corruption has left Kenya reeling from a deficient healthcare infrastructure that cannot support the citizens in times of health crisis.
Kenya is currently battling Covid-19 pandemic which has seen at least 343 people test positive for coronavirus in the country since the first case was confirmed in March 13, 2020.
Odinga pointed out that despite the country boasting highly skilled health workforce, Kenya still lags behind in terms of innovations in healthcare with focus mostly on prevention and cure.
“Covid-19 has badly exposed our deficient healthcare infrastructure, indicating that we have only concentrated on prevention and cure. With covid-19, one person left to own devices is too much for everyone,” said Odinga.
Mr Odinga said now is the time for self-reflection calling for review of the domination of Kenya’s healthcare by donors which has left the country at the whims of the donors in terms of funding and agenda setting.
“When donors are overwhelmed in their own countries as is the case now, we are left badly exposed. How to ensure everyone is able to pay for healthcare in a situation where one mismanaged infection can bring down a nation is a matter Africa must confront with urgency?” he posed.
He decried how attempts to implement Universal Health Care during the NARC and the Grand Coalition government between 2002 and 2012, flopped as a result of “tenderpreneurs” who frustrated the efforts.
“We attempted Universal Health Care under the NARC and the grand coalition governments but “tenderpreneurs” ganged up against it,” said Mr Odinga.
The former premier called for the government to ensure that the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) is strengthened to continue with provision of comprehensive medical cover for Kenyans.
He challenged the government and the private sector to encourage innovations in the health sector to rise to the levels of developed nations with Kenya still lagging behind in terms of healthcare innovations despite the presence of immense potential.
“Kenyatta University students have challenged us that with encouragement from government and private sector, innovation for healthcare can be done here, by us,” he said.
This comes even as a number of companies in Kenya have ventured into mass production of face masks, hand sanitisers and with innovators now battling to come up with ventilators for use in critical cases of Covid-19.
Mr Odinga further said that Kenya can learn from the dominance by United States of America’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US CDC) over similar health institutions in Kenya and across Africa by picking vital lessons.
“What have we done with the Kenya Medical Research Institute and its equivalents across Africa? Let’s question the dominance of US CDC over Kemri and its equivalents in Africa and seek ways to make these institutions independent, more attuned to Africa’s needs,” said Mr Odinga.