Accessibility of Health Facilities in Northern Kenya
Despite health being a primary need for people, Kenya still faces significant challenges in providing access to quality healthcare services to its population. While the country has made some strides in recent years, particularly in expanding access to basic healthcare services and reducing child mortality rates, there is still a significant gap in access to quality healthcare services, especially for those living in poverty or in rural areas. The morbidity rate in Kenya is still at an alarming rate. The leading disease in Kenya remains to be malaria with a morbidity rate of 37%.
Reviewing the Kenya Health Policy Framework, the policies and strategies made by the Ministry of Health align with reducing maternal, newborn and child mortality. How close have we come to achieving this goal as a country?
This article aims to shed light on the accessibility of healthcare services. The northern parts of Kenya, including the arid and semi-arid regions of Turkana, Marsabit, Mandera, Wajir, Garissa, and Isiolo, face some of the most significant challenges when it comes to healthcare accessibility. These regions are characterized by low population density, inadequate healthcare infrastructure, and limited access to essential healthcare services, lack of healthcare facilities and medical personnel. Many health facilities in these regions are understaffed or lack the necessary equipment and supplies to provide essential healthcare services. Challenging working conditions, limited resources, and security concerns are among issues related to health provision in these areas
One solution to this gap is the introduction of mobile clinics. Mobile clinics are an important component of healthcare services in Kenya, particularly in rural and underserved areas where access to healthcare facilities can be limited. Mobile clinics are essentially small, portable medical facilities that travel to remote and hard-to-reach areas to provide essential healthcare services to the local population.
In Kenya, there are a number of mobile clinics operated by both the government and NGOs. These clinics are typically staffed by a team of medical personnel, including doctors, nurses, and community health workers, and are equipped with basic medical equipment and supplies. Mobile clinics are often used to provide a range of healthcare services, including primary care, maternal and child health services, HIV testing and treatment, and immunizations. They may also provide health education and outreach services to help communities prevent disease and promote healthy lifestyles. The Kenya Red Cross Society operates a fleet of mobile clinics that travel to remote areas to provide primary healthcare services, while the African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF) operates mobile clinics that provide maternal and child health services in underserved areas.
However, while mobile clinics have proven to be an effective means of extending healthcare services to underserved populations, there are still significant challenges that need to be addressed. These include funding constraints, inadequate infrastructure, and a shortage of medical personnel. Additionally, security concerns sometimes make it difficult for mobile clinics to operate in certain areas. Nonetheless, mobile clinics remain an important part of Kenya’s healthcare system and an effective means of reaching underserved populations. Mobile clinics play a crucial role particularly in Northern Kenya thus the government should put more funds into sustaining and increasing the number of clinics to address the need of health services in these areas.
Ministry of Health, http://publications.universalhealth2030.org/uploads/kenya_health_policy_2014_to_2030.pdf
AMREF. (n.d.). Mobile clinics. Retrieved from https://amref.org/what-we-do/community-health-and-training/mobile-health-clinics/