Kenyan healthcare system ranks Africa’s second best

A patient undergoes cancer screening at the Integrated Molecular Imaging Center (IMIC) located at the Kenyatta University Teaching Referral and Research Hospital.

Photo credit: File | Lucy Wanjiru | Nation Media Group

The Kenyan health system has been ranked second in Africa for quality services using top-notch equipment for diagnosis and treatment, as well as high-skilled medical personnel, a new survey said.

The Numbeo Health Index Report-2024 shows that Kenya scored an overall health index of 62.1, behind South Africa, which topped the list with an index score of 63.5. This score represents a slight increase in score from last year's index of 61.1. Globally, Kenya was ranked position 155.

Numbeo is a global research organisation that tracks the quality of healthcare systems worldwide and publishes periodical reports.

Kenya scored highly in the accuracy and completeness of reporting at 66.5 percent, and in equipment for modern diagnosis and treatment, it scored 64.1 percent. The country scored 61.6 percent in terms of qualified and competent medical staff.

“Kenya also performed higher in terms of convenient location to the patient, friendliness and courtesy of staff, with a moderate score in cost of treatment and response to attend to patients,” the survey indicated.

However, Kenya's healthcare system faces challenges in achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) including slow recruitment of health workers, problems with health insurance coverage and failing systems.

The latest Kenya Health Facility Census report from the Ministry of Health shows that the country is experiencing a shortage of essential services, with less than half of the 12,375 health facilities surveyed providing essential services.

Of Kenya's 2,304 critical care beds, only 34 percent are available in public hospitals. The report also found that only 10 percent of public health facilities are equipped to provide basic services. Kenya targets to shift to a new Social Health Insurance Fund (SHIF) from October 1, 2024 to help improve UHC services.

The shift was initially scheduled for July 1 but was postponed at the last minute amid challenges with the digital platform designed to support contributions and registration into the scheme.

This postponement came a week after a transition committee on the Social Health Authority(SHA)—the agency created to run the SHIF, which replaces the current National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF)—warned in a report that a pilot run on the ICT system created to support the shift, showed it wasn’t ready for the July 1 deadline for big migration as earlier gazetted by Health Cabinet Secretary Susan Nakumicha.

Under the SHIF plan, Kenyan workers in the formal sector will part with 2.75 percent of their monthly gross pay while households in the informal sector will cede a similar percentage from the gross income. Kenyans, with no source of income, will also be compelled to pay at least sh300 every month to SHIF as the State targets a vast funding pool to finance UHC.

For example, a salaried worker with a monthly gross salary of Sh50,000 will pay Sh1,375 under SHIF, up from Sh1,200 under NHIF. For a worker earning Sh100,000 the deductions under SHIF will climb to Sh2,750, up from Sh1,700 under NHIF. Those earning Sh20,000 will however get some relief under SHIF and will part with Sh550, down from Sh750 presently contributed under NHIF.

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Note: The results are not exact but very close to the actual.