The Vision 2030 Delivery Secretariat and Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) organized a one-day policy forum that focused on disseminating evidence from research studies, relevant policy lessons, and innovations in health, water and sanitation. The forum was organized within the policy framework of the national government through the Ministry of Health, Vision 2030 (Economic and Social pillars) and the health priorities of the county governments.
Bringing together local and global researchers, policymakers, donors, and implementers, the forum aimed to discuss solutions that work in improving the Kenyan health and WASH sector with the third Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 3) in mind. The conference highlighted results, evidence, and working solutions from research studies and interventions relating to the following themes:
•The impact of improved water and sanitation on child growth and development
•Access to universal health care and provision of health services at the grassroots level
•Access to medicines and essential medical equipment and services
•Health systems and health tourism
•The delivery of quality maternal health services
•Health among the elderly
Objective of the conference
The event provided a formidable platform to:
- Promote active discussions and dialogue among researchers, policymakers, donors, and implementers on how to best translate evidence from research and intervention programs that have proven to be effective, into sustainable and well-informed policies.
- Share research results and innovative ideas that are key in driving and achieving SDG3.
- Present an opportunity for key stakeholders to consider the relevance of research findings in designing future national and county health and WASH strategies.
- Government officials and policymakers
- Researchers and academics
- Implementers in both private and public sectors
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) demonstrate a renewed global commitment in tackling global problems. The 17 SDGs build on the successes of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), while including new areas such as climate change, economic inequality, innovation, sustainable consumption among other priorities. The goals are interconnected – outcomes of one will lead to success of another.
Health has a central place in the SDGs. The third SDG, SDG3, is mandated with ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages. This SDG addresses all major health priorities, including maternal and child health, communicable and non-communicable diseases, and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable medicines. It also calls for increased health financing, more research and more evidence-based policymaking in health.
At the national level, Kenya’s Vision 2030 aims to achieve a globally competitive and prosperous nation with a high quality of life by 2030. Kenya’s Health sector provides one of the most important components for addressing issues of equity and the broader national socio-economic agenda in line with the aspirations of the social pillar of the Kenya Vision 2030. The sector’s goal is, “to attain equitable, affordable, accessible and quality health care for all Kenyan citizens” and thereby reduce health inequalities while also reversing the downward trend that has been seen in health-related outcome and impact indicators. The current Health Sector Plan (MTP II 2013 -17) and Kenya Health Sector Strategic and Investment Plan (2014 – 2018) is built on the achievements of MTP I (2008 -2012) and National Health Sector Strategic Plan I (2008 -12). These plans emphasize Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with a view of achieving Kenya Vision 2030 objectives and goals.
While significant progress has been made in reducing some of the common causes associated with child and maternal mortality like diarrhea and excessive bleeding respectively, strides have also been made on increasing access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), reducing malaria, tuberculosis, polio and the spread of HIV/AIDS. However, many more efforts are needed to fully eradicate a wide range of diseases associated with WASH and address persistent and emerging health issues such as lifestyle diseases, especially in the developing world, Kenya included.
Health is one of the biggest determinants of a society’s economic and social status. Poor health impacts negatively on the rights of children to education, limits economic opportunities for youths and increases poverty within communities. In addition, health is impacted by poverty and strongly connected to other aspects of sustainable development, including water, sanitation and hygiene, gender equality, and climate change. Health also impacts groups differently; vulnerable and disabled are impacted differently as well as youth and elderly populations.
A key aspect of Kenya’s Constitution 2010 was devolving health to the counties. The national government now focuses on delivering an effective policy framework to support county health strategies. However, devolving health has proved to be a challenge mainly due to scarce resources and conflicting priorities in counties. While tremendous progress has been made since 2010 such as getting health services closer to the people and investing in new technologies, challenges still persist.
Identifying what works from proven programs through rigorous research is critical in addressing some of the health challenges counties and the national government face. This is the first step in moving towards sustainable health by allowing policy makers to make decisions based on proven and innovative programs from across the world and replicating them in the Kenyan context.