Transforming healthcare through community primary care networks



In the ever-evolving landscape of healthcare, one thing remains constant: the centrality of our communities. At the heart of Kenya’s healthcare delivery system, the establishment of primary care networks (PCNs) marks a monumental shift in our approach to healthcare.

These networks are not merely an administrative change; they represent a visionary transformation that embraces the principles of preventive and promotive healthcare.

PCNs play a pivotal role in weaving the intricate threads of our healthcare system. They are instrumental in integrating care across all levels, making our healthcare delivery more efficient and accessible. But their impact goes beyond logistics.

PCNs embody inclusivity, ensuing that every individual, regardless of their circumstances has access to quality healthcare. They establish a robust emergency referral system, a lifeline in times of crisis.

Collaboration is the cornerstone of PCNs. They facilitate the sharing of resources among different levels of care, enabling a more equitable distribution of critical resources. Moreover, PCNs are data-driven, ensuring that decisions are not just timely but also well-informed.

This strategic shift aligns perfectly with the four pillars of universal health coverage (UHC) — human resource for health, digital health, commodity security and healthcare financing. It embodies a strategic manoeuvre aimed at lightening the burden of disease and enhancing the overall well-being of every Kenyan.

PCNs, by offering an efficient, integrated and affordable healthcare system, are heralding a new era of healthcare delivery.

The forthcoming Mashujaa Day celebration in Kericho County themed “Universal Health Coverage,” will serve as a platform to launch smart primary care networks. This is a testament of the government commitment to the Bottom-up Economic Transformation Agenda (BETA) on health, with a steadfast focus on “Afya Bora Mashinani” – better healthcare at the grassroots.

Our journey towards accessible, available, affordable and acceptable quality healthcare has seen remarkable progress. The recruitment of 100,000 community health promoters and comprehensive assessment of over 14,000 healthcare facilities nationwide form the bedrock of the data-driven approach.

This approach underpins evidence-based policy formulation, meticulous planning, and thoughtful healthcare programming, all geared towards achieving UHC.

Through partnerships with county governments and development partners, significant strides are being made to operationalise all 315 primary care networks across the country. Two counties, Kisumu and Garissa, are leading the way, with more to follow. To fortify these efforts the Ministry of Health has nurtured a team of trainer of trainers (TOTs), 248 who are posed to steer the digital development of model PCNs in all 47 counties.

Their mission is to strengthen the healthcare system and expand primary care across counties, creating a more resilient healthcare infrastructure.

The writer is the Principal Secretary of the State Department of Public Health and Professional Standards.