A Paradigm Shift in the Community Health Ecosystem in Kenya

For many years in Kenya, the focus and investment in health has been on curative services. That changed on September 25th, 2023, when President Ruto, backed by the County Governments, flagged off 100,000 community health promoter (CHP) kits to all the 47 Counties and launched the revamped Community Health Promoter Program.

The program will see all community health workers paid a stipend and equipped to provide preventive and promotive health services for all citizens. The government’s clarion call is PREVENT, PROMOTE, and PROTECT.

The Government committed to jointly pay stipends and health insurance to CHPs with the first payment of Kes 3Billion handed over during the ceremony. Living Goods and partners from CHU4UCH have been advocating for the professionalizing of CHPs, well aware that this was dependent on political goodwill. We are proud of what the government has achieved.

Some photos from the flag-off ceremony.

There is an increasing focus on preventive and promotive healthcare, more so on non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Kenya still experiences a double disease burden, with an increasing prevalence of NCDs. The CHP kits distributed to the counties comprise more equipment like blood pressure machines and glucometers to support sensitization and early screening and referral care for hypertensive and diabetic patients. There will be a need for building CHP capability to be able to assess and refer such cases.

Key Presidential commitments from the event:

  • Since health is a devolved function, he urged county governments to support the partnership with the national government to ensure their part of the match funding towards regular (monthly) and timely stipends to CHPs.
  • Urged leaders of both houses – Senate & Parliament – to fast-track legislation that will anchor CHP recognition and financing into law.
  • Digitization of community health will support not just service delivery, but more accurate planning and demographics on health trends.
  • He thanked the partners for supporting the kitting as well as equipping of CHPs.

Key Messages from Distinguished Speakers:

Cabinet Secretary, Health Susan Nakhumicha:
• Emphasized that the new approach will improve preventive and promotive services, reducing the burden on health facilities.
• Expressed the desire to achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC) through preventive healthcare.

UNICEF, Kenya Representative Ms. Shaheen Nilofer:
• Highlighted that the initiative will standardize community health work and improve referral systems.
• Emphasized the journey towards integrated programming, financing, and systems thinking.

Gov Muthomi Njuki – Chair Health COG:
• Commended the shift towards preventive and promotive health services, different from previous curative-focused approaches to UHC.
• Mentioned the importance of proposed laws for uniform management of community health nationwide.
• Acknowledged the critical role of Community Health Promoters (CHPs) in disease surveillance and pandemic response.

Vice President Johnson and Johnson Foundation – Lauren Moore:
• Praised Kenya for involving CHPs in finding solutions, highlighting Kenya’s success as an inspiration to other countries.
• Stressed the significance of well-resourced community health systems and well-trained, supervised CHPs.

CEO, Peter Ndegwa of Safaricom:
• Pledged to partner with the government in strengthening CHP health commodity security, healthcare financing, and health information technology.
• Promised to provide connectivity, infrastructure, cybersecurity, and a call center to support these efforts.

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