On 19 March 2018, the Kenya Ministry of Health, the World Bank Group, AMPATH and Access Accelerated launched the first non-communicable disease (NCD) county pilots. The pilots will integrate NCD services into primary healthcare in two Kenyan counties: Busia and Trans Nzoia.
Nearly 40 percent of deaths in Kenya are caused by NCDs each year, with only a fraction of the population able to access quality services and fewer still able to pay out of pocket for medical care. The challenge is particularly acute in the two pilot counties. Busia county has a poverty rate of over 64% and a life expectancy of only 47 years. Trans-Nzoia county has a poverty rate of over 50%.
Kenya has made a strong central commitment to accelerating progress on global health. In December 2017, President Uhuru Kenyatta prioritized affordable healthcare as one of his “Big Four” priority agenda for the country, along with job creation, food security and increased shelter. The country also has a goal to achieve Universal Health Care (UHC) by 2022.
“Have we done enough?” asked Cabinet Secretary of Health Sicily Kariuki at the Naivasha meeting. “Considering that NCDs are responsible for so many deaths and that, for example, close to 25 percent of the population with hypertension is not only not on treatment, they do not know they have hypertension? While we have done a lot, there is still a lot more to do.”
“We need to learn from past mistakes,” said Thomas Cueni, who as the Director General of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations (IFPMA) represented Access Accelerated in the Naivasha event’s opening session. “It took far too long for HIV medicines to reach patients. We must do better with NCDs – better in partnerships, better in reaching communities.”
The pilots will help the country meet these ambitious goals as well as contribute to the global target to reduce NCD deaths by two-thirds by 2030 set in the Sustainable Development Goals.
In Busia and Trans Nzoia, Access Accelerated is working with the World Bank and local implementing partner, AMPATH to launch and test innovative NCD care models in primary health care. County leadership were engaged in the design of the pilots, which will raise awareness of hypertension, diabetes, cervical and breast cancer and encourage early screening. Partners will share learnings from the pilots to better assess what can be scaled nationally.
The partners made the announcement at a meeting in Naivasha, “Taking Stock of Progress to Realign NCDs for Universal Health Coverage” where key stakeholders from government, civil society and the private sector are meeting to revitalize national action on NCDs.
Participants at the Naivasha event have been emphasizing the importance of collaborative, multisector action – including the engagement of the private sector – that aligns with national priorities and maintains a focus on the needs of people living with NCDs.
Addressing the scale and complexity of the NCD challenge requires deeper and stronger collaboration. Access Accelerated is participating in the Naivasha event and continuing the conversation at an event a few days later in Nairobi, “Building Solutions to Patient Challenges in Non-Communicable Disease.” The initiative is focused on applying what we’ve learned as an industry about prevention, treatment and care to meet the specific needs of people at risk of, or suffering from, NCDs.
“We have absolute clarity that the private sector has a key role to play,” said Cabinet Secretary Kariuki.