Health & Fitness

Adopt research as appraisal components in our hospitals

KNH doctors attend to a baby after surgery. FILE PHOTO | NMG
KNH doctors attend to a baby after surgery. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH)’s affiliation to the University of Nairobi (UoN) and the Kenya Medical Training Colleges KMTC Nairobi campuses has bode well for it.

This may explain the difficulty in dissociating itself from the two. The symbiosis is predominantly knowledge driven, where the former gets a wide pool of “free” health services from the two. In return KNH provides the learning environment and equipment.

In 2017 these two institutions jointly held a conference aptly titled, Transforming Healthcare Through Research and Innovation. It served to highlight trends in healthcare towards stimulation of evidence-based interventions by medics.

But it isn’t just the learning that the partnership benefit from, by virtue of their association they boast easily of the region’s biggest producer of medical research material.

To put things into perspective, KNH and UoN jointly host about 300 senior doctors, close to 500 postgraduate doctors and over 1,200 clinical years’ medical students. In addition, senior nursing and clinical officer staff are also domiciled there. No other county facility has such a health workers’ density.

A few other interesting statistics about KNH. It has about 2,400 beds that depending on patient accommodation configurations (single patient at low peak and double occupancy of some beds during high peak) can hold 2500 patients.

The hospital also conducted an incredible 21,000 or thereabout surgical procedures last year! Mind boggling statistics in comparison to other hospitals.

All these make KNH a popular ground for healthcare researchers. A look at the 2014-2016 ethics review board shows a rich mix of health topics across all cadres were approved for study. A similar evaluation of the University of Nairobi’s postgraduate medical school’s theses also shows good work.

Did the conference’s desired objectives take root?

Quite the contrary, most peripheral hospitals in counties do not conduct clinical research work or studies to evaluate their work. A dearth of research generally correlates with lower quality care, because one cannot critic the output.

The question for health system managers is whether this is a matter of capacity or lack of resources? One side will argue that KNH and the university wield heavy influence in attracting funding for research work. The other will say counties must create budget lines for their medics to stimulate research work.

It is almost embarrassing that some hospitals have never conducted any research work 20 years after being founded. Our hospitals need to adopt research as an appraisal component of health workers, more so the doctor fraternity particularly when evaluating staff on promotions and compensations.

Senior doctors must spearhead the initiative to convince counties to set funds aside to carry out such studies.