Access to diagnostic services crucial step to improving health outcomes

Accessibility to diagnostic services remains a critical issue in Kenya’s healthcare landscape.  

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Accessibility to diagnostic services remains a critical issue in Kenya’s healthcare landscape. Many regions, particularly rural and underserved areas, lack adequate diagnostic facilities, forcing individuals to travel long distances and in some cases forgo testing.

According to a national survey between 2019 and 2020, only a fraction of primary healthcare facilities were adequately equipped to deliver necessary diagnostic services. Specifically, the survey revealed that only about 10 percent of these facilities had the essential equipment and infrastructure required for comprehensive diagnostic services.

This disparity exacerbates health inequities and perpetuates the cycle of illness, heaving the health burden among many Kenyans.

By improving accessibility to diagnostic services through strategic investments in infrastructure and technology, we can bridge this gap and ensure that all Kenyans have equitable access to timely and accurate diagnostics.

The healthcare landscape is consistently evolving, with modern medicine breaking ceilings in treatment modalities and pharmaceutical advancements with precision medicine garnering much attention.

However, the effectiveness of most treatment modalities heavily relies on the accuracy and timeliness of the diagnosis.

Diagnostic services serve as the cornerstone of evidence-based healthcare, enabling early detection and precise disease characterisation. They provide the foundation upon which effective therapeutic interventions are built, ultimately determining the trajectory of patient health.

The potential outcomes of investing in accessible diagnostic services extend far beyond mere health improvements. They have broader socio-economic benefits. Early detection of diseases not only saves lives but also reduces the economic health burden associated with advanced-stage treatments. By shifting the focus from reactive to proactive healthcare, we can alleviate the strain on the healthcare system and redirect resources towards preventative measures.

A robust diagnostic sector has the ripple effect of fostering innovation, attracting investment, creating employment, and stimulating economic growth.

It is paramount that as a country we align closely with the sustainability development goals, particularly Goal 3, (Good Health and Well Being) which emphasizes the importance of universal health coverage and access to quality healthcare services. This must include diagnostic services.

The government has recognized the importance of diagnostic services and has included diagnostic infrastructure development in its Kenya Health Policy (2014-2030) and the Universal Health Coverage(UHC) plan. To effectively action these policies and plans collaboration between the public and private sectors is essential to maximize the impact of investments in diagnostic services.

Private entities like PathCare Kenya, bring expertise, innovation, and efficiency to the table. These collaborations and partnerships can leverage the strengths of both sectors to create a sustainable diagnostic ecosystem that meets the diverse needs of the population in Kenya.

Technological advances within the diagnostic sector will help overcome the traditional barriers seen today in the healthcare landscape. Services like home sample collection services in the diagnostic sector can support Telemedicine companies in offering innovative solutions to reach remote and marginalized communities. Embracing these advancements can enhance the efficacy, accuracy, and reach of diagnostic services, paving the way for a healthier and more resilient Kenya.

Investing in diagnostic services is not just a matter of healthcare; it's a matter of human dignity, social justice, and economic prosperity. It would contribute to early detection and better management of diseases. Similarly, building strong and sustainable healthcare systems in Africa requires investments in diagnostic capacity, with technology playing a leading role in achieving that.

The writer is the Managing Director of PathCare Laboratory KE.

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