Governors from 13 counties have initiated a plan that will see the region share medical specialists as a way of addressing staff shortfalls in the devolved units.
The strategy is the brainchild of the Lake Region Economic Bloc that brings together 13 counties from Nyanza, Western and parts of the Rift Valley.
Many hospitals in the region lack skin, cancer, ENT (ear, nose, throat) and dental specialists.
The counties that are part of the plan include Kisumu, Homa Bay, Kakamega, Kisii, Migori, Nyamira, Siaya, Vihiga, Bungoma and Busia. Others are Bomet, Trans Nzoia and Kericho.
According to the governors, every devolved unit will share the specialists they have within the bloc.
“For instance if we have a specialist in Kisii in a given area, we should be able to share within the region. If the person is not moving then it would be done by local telemedicine because in all the counties we have improved diagnostic services and telemedicine is now a reality,” said Kisii county governor James Ongwae.
“The hospitals will specialise in treating different ailments in a move aimed at improving healthcare access and reducing patient burden in key referral institutions,” he added.
The plan will be among topics on the agenda for a two-day health conference to be held at Kisii University starting next week on Wednesday.
Other issues to be discussed include high diseases burden, limited number of health facilities, inadequate of human resource for health facilities, high prevalence rate for malaria and HIV and infant mortality rates in the devolved units.
Earlier, World Bank health adviser Khama Rogo had recommended that the devolved units share specialists rather than employing them in order to address shortages and cut costs.
Dr Rogo said if what the counties proposed was implemented, it would reduce congestion in referral hospitals.
“They are moving in the right direction. It is a very wise idea,” he said, adding that healthcare was going to be affordable to all because residents would be making trips to neighbouring counties rather than Nairobi or Eldoret which have referral hospitals.
Under the devolved system of government, several Level 5 hospitals in the region have now attained referral status including the facilities in Kisii, Kisumu, Homa Bay, Migori and Bomet counties.