Envisioning the Future of a Digitized Community Health system in Kenya

Living Goods, in partnership with the Ministry of Health – Department of Community Health, recently organized a breakfast meeting to evaluate the progress made in professionalizing Community Health Promoters (CHPs) in Kenya and chart the path forward for sustainable digitized community health.

MOH and Living Goods Breakfast Meeting
The gathering also marked the launch of the Afya Nyumbani Magazine, a platform dedicated to amplifying the voices, work, and best practices of CHPs across all 47 counties. Many partners joined us, including representatives from AMREF, Medic, Lwala Alliance, J & J, PATH, LVCT, CMMB, Pathfinder, MoH Divisions-Malaria Program, NVIP, DCH, PHC, DH, COG, County Governors Busia and Vihiga, County Governor Rep Homabay, and the Representative from the PS office, Mary Muthoni.

Living Goods Kenya, Country Director Thomas Onyango.

Living Goods Kenya, Country Director Thomas Onyango.

Thomas Onyango, the Kenya Country Director, underscored the evolving healthcare landscape, highlighting emerging challenges such as the increasing burden of non-communicable diseases and the impacts of climate change. He emphasized the potential of digitization in facilitating data-driven decision-making and stressed the importance of enhancing supervisor capabilities for sustainable workforce management.

During the meeting, stakeholders expressed their support and commitment to digitizing and professionalizing CHPs, acknowledging the initiative as a crucial step towards achieving resilient health outcomes. There were calls for partnerships to strengthen the digitization system and secure long-term financing for community health, with an emphasis on preventive and promotive healthcare measures. Here are some highlights from the engagement of partners and stakeholders at the meeting.

Living Goods Founder Chuck Slaughter

Living Goods Founder Chuck Slaughter.

Our Founder and Board Chair, Chuck Slaughter, commended President Ruto’s bold commitment to digitize and professionalize CHPs, emphasizing its significance as a crucial first step. He urged partners to join forces in supporting the initiative and enhancing the digitization system, emphasizing Living Goods’ dedication to forging lasting partnerships with the government. Additionally, he highlighted the organization’s commitment to implementing robust performance measurement practices to address challenges in the supply chain, service delivery, and service quality.

Dr. Meshack Ndirangu from AMREF emphasized the vital role of CHPs in delivering healthcare at the household level and highlighted government efforts to support them through stipends, digitization, and provision of necessary kits. However, challenges such as underreporting and service gaps were identified, calling for collaborative solutions.

Emphasizing the importance of community spirit, Community Health Promoters (CHPs) play a crucial role in delivering preventive and promotive services at the household level. The government is committed to supporting CHPs by providing stipends on a 50:50 basis, implementing digitization efforts across all 47 counties, and distributing CHP kits to facilitate their work.

However, challenges persist, including non-reporting and service gaps among CHPs, which highlight the need for improved data availability and utilization. Currently, supervisor capability stands at 34%, presenting an opportunity to reevaluate our approach.

Dr. Simon Kibiasi, Director of Health Standards and Quality Assurance representing the PS Ministry of Health, emphasized the importance of ongoing collaboration in addressing these issues.

Living Goods CEO Liz Jarman.

Living Goods CEO Liz Jarman.

In her call to action, CEO Liz Jarman highlighted the challenges that come with digitization, such as platform readiness, infrastructure and hardware specifications, device management, field support personnel, analytics and monitoring, training, processes and practices, ownership at the sub-national levels, service quality, data accuracy, and sustainability. These challenges must be addressed.

Key outcomes from the panel session on celebrating progress included:

  • Digitization has significantly reduced paperwork and streamlined data for decision-making.
  • Implementation of eCHIS has enabled Kisumu County to successfully map its population, determine economic quintiles for households, and improve maternal health outcomes by up to 30%, alongside an increase in skilled birth attendants.
  • Previous evidence has reaffirmed the impactful work of Community Health Promoters (CHPs).
  • The CHP agenda aligns well with the government’s manifesto, which emphasizes the importance of utilizing evidence to influence policy outcomes
  • Collaboration and unity behind a common agenda were stressed as crucial, as the journey has just begun.

During the panel session on ensuring continued momentum in a digitally enabled Community Health System, strategies were emphasized. These included:

  • Sustaining and enhancing the digitized community health system established through Community Health Units (CHUs) for Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
  • Demonstrating the impact, measuring, and reporting on the investments made in community health.
  • Ensuring the sustainability of eCHIS through a four-pronged approach focusing on Product, People, Policies, and Process.
  • Continuously improving the system within the larger framework of digitization connected to the digital superhighway.
  • Developing robust support structures and identifying champions for ongoing system enhancement.
  • Emphasize the importance of domestic financing to ensure sustainability and consider allocating additional budgets at both the county and national levels.
  • Investigate the possibility of utilizing the Primary Health Care (PHC) and Facility Improvement Fund (FIF) to allocate healthcare resources for Level 1 services but take into account concerns about implementing service fees.

The event highlighted the commitment of stakeholders to advancing digital health and strengthening community health systems in Kenya.

For more information, a recording of the event captured by KTN News.

For more pictures CLICK HERE.

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