As I have stated before, this is a fight that should not be left to the Government alone. It is one whose success is dependent on active participation of the people. This is critical, particularly now that our COVID-19 positive cases have surpassed the 5,000 mark, most of who, if not all, are from community infection.
This number is bound to rise, and will overburden our healthcare facilities. This has to be curtailed, failure of which, we risk being overrun. As a Ministry, we have adopted a community based approach, which places our County Governments and the people, at the centre of community health, particularly on COVID-19 related matters.
Regarding community health approach, it is a strategy that has been globally recognized, as an effective way for making improvements in health care delivery, as well as addressing the burden of diseases, and therefore, contributing to the health and socioeconomic development.
It is an approach which has been, and is still, a key pillar of the Primary Health Care approach adopted by countries, Kenya included in 1978, through the Alma Ata Declaration 42 years ago, and later re-affirmed by Kenya in Astana, Kazakhstan in 2018. Kenya developed a primary health care approach in the 1980s, but was focused primarily on healthcare facilities, with minimal community participation.
Since 2006, we have had two strategic plans to guide how the community health program was being implemented. The 2006 strategic plan focused on; providing level 1 services for all, building the capacity of the community health extension workers, strengthening health facility-community linkages, and strengthening the community to progressively realize their rights for accessible and quality care.
The second strategic plan covered the period 2014 – 2019 and focused on; strengthening the delivery of integrated, comprehensive, and quality community health services for all population cohorts, strengthening community structures, and systems for effective implementation of community health actions and services at all levels.
Strengthening data demand and information use at all levels, and strengthening mechanisms for resource mobilization and management for sustainable implementation of community health services.
We are in the process of developing a third community health strategy, 2020-2024, which will be guided by lessons learnt from the previous two strategies.
Currently, we are at 60% level of implementation of Community health in the country. We expect to achieve the remaining 40% by the end of this month, by which time 31,780 community health volunteers, will have been recruited and trained in all 47 Counties, to offer services at the household level including home based care for COVID 19 cases, and other aliment’s.
Under the current devolved system of government, this community health services strategy is great resource in providing a framework in the implementation and uptake of community health services.
This structure promotes a more robust, and well-coordinated community health program at National and County levels that ensures access to preventive and promotive health services for all Kenyans.