The achievements of medical practice over the past few years in Kenya are impressive. There have been advances in non-invasive interventions, pharmaceuticals, and effective health promotion and disease prevention strategies which have improved the ability of practitioners to diagnose, manage and treat numerous health conditions.
However, both national and devolved health systems have now reached an important turning point. A changing burden of disease will continue to increase the need for people to have continuing contact with multiple public and private healthcare practitioners.
Concomitantly, increasing levels of patient education, increased availability of information due to increased mobile telephony, rising consumer protection and greater access to provider options are altering community expectations.
The populace now expects health practitioners to escalate levels of performance and adopt more humanistic approaches, wherein an individual who needs care is respected as a whole person with multidimensional needs.
Patient safety, responsiveness of care and patient satisfaction metrics such as client waiting times are also increasingly being weighted.
A people-centered approach recognises that before people become patients, they need to be informed and empowered in promoting their own health. In this, there is a need to reach out to all people, to families and communities beyond the clinic and hospital environments.
Also, health practitioners are people, and healthcare organisations and systems are made up of people too. Their needs should also be considered, and they must be empowered to constantly improve.