By Debbie Moraa
Survey findings released today by Infotrak on the state of health care in Kenya paint a very grim picture of Kenya’s public health system that serves up to 70 percent of Kenyans.
The survey findings indicate that Kenya’s public health system is in deep crisis and unable to provide health care services to a great majority of Kenyans who depend on it.
The survey found out that 7 in 10 low-income earners visit public facilities to access healthcare, as compared to only 2 in 5 high- and middle-income earners who seek medical attention from these facilities.
The poll, was conducted across the eight regions with 1200 respondents participating, also showed that 71% of Kenyans in need of medical attention visited public health facilities between the end of 2020 and mid–2021.
The Report further revealed that 3 in 10 Kenyans who sought medical attention between the end of 2020 and mid–2021 required treatment for pre-existing conditions; including 1 in 5 for Malaria and other respiratory diseases.
“But evidence has demonstrated over and over again that the private health care system is not able to provide affordable and quality health care to a greater majority of Kenyans,” said Walter Nyakundi Public Policy and governance officer at infotrack
During the COVID-19 pandemic, over 70 percent of Kenyan’s preferred to seek health care in public facilities citing affordability, according to the survey findings.
Even though the bulk of Kenyan’s can only seek health care in public health facilities, the demand is seldom met because of the challenge of inadequate staff to meet the needs of the many seeking health services, coupled with lack of essential health care commodities and supplies, and diagnostics and technologies necessary to diagnose and treat disease.
48% of the respondents said they were satisfied with the services they received from public health facilities, 51% noted an adequate number of medical staff, while 53% noted inadequate resources such as medical equipment and drugs
The consequence of this has been that people are then forced to seek services in the often expensive private health care facilities, leading them into deep financial crisis and hence creating a challenge for the poor who bear the brunt of the high cost due to the lack of any form of social protection, with NHIF not enabling them to access health care in private health facilities.
On to the cost of healthcare, 2 in 5 Kenyans spend under Ksh.10,000 on healthcare annually for themselves and their extended families while 1 in 5 have health insurance covers.
The poll said 2 in 5 Kenyans who contracted the coronavirus sought help from relatives and friends to pay for the cost of treatment, while 1 in 5 used their savings.
Another 1 in 5 said they have recently assisted people close to them to offset a medical bill for COVID-19 treatment.
It costs about Ksh.21,359 per day per patient to manage COVID-19 in hospitals for asymptomatic patients, Ksh.21,361 for those with mild symptoms, Ksh.24,705 for those with severe disease and Ksh.51,684 for critical patients in ICUs the poll further noted.