Ruto sends 100,000 community health workers to counties

Mohamed Bulle

 President William Ruto (centres) greets some of the 7,000 Community Health Promoters at Uhuru Park in Nairobi on September 25, 2023.

Photo credit: PCS

President William Ruto has flagged off medical kits for Community Health Promoters (CHPs) in all the 47 counties to be used for primary healthcare services.

Speaking during the event at Uhuru Park in Nairobi on Monday (September 25), the President said 100,000 CHPs will transform healthcare at the grassroots and Kenyans will no longer have to visit hospitals for screening services.

"Kenyans will now be attended to in their homes by fully trained local Community Health Promoters who will be supervised by qualified health workers," said President Ruto.

Jointly implemented

Dr Ruto lauded the programme, which will be jointly implemented by the national government and county governments.

Each promoter is mandated to serve 100 households and will be provided with basic household screening equipment and smartphones.

The President said the two levels of government will share the responsibility of paying the CHPs.

“We're making a strong statement about our intention to take a giant step towards winning our nation's long struggle for freedom from disease using a bottom-up strategy,” he said.

Dr Ruto pledged to support counties’ efforts to bolster medical services.

"I also want to assure our county governments that they have our cooperation in delivering for the people of Kenya. My commitment, the commitment of the Government of Kenya is that we succeed as a nation. It doesn't matter who takes the credit, whoever wants to take the credit can do so as long as we deliver on our commitment that has been elusive for many years,” he said.

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua said the programme would ensure that the amount Kenyans spend on health care is halved within five years.

"This is an intervention that is geared towards the economic transformation of this country," Mr Gachagua said.

Health Cabinet Secretary Susan Nakhumicha said primary healthcare would help in achieving universal health coverage, and that CHPs are a critical component in the implementation of the Community Health Strategy.

"In the East African region, Kenya is at the forefront of efforts to achieve universal health coverage. Our approach is both comprehensive and community-driven, setting a precedent for the region and aligning with the global UHC agenda,” she said.

Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa assured the government that the telco will ensure that CHPs have easy access to information through connectivity.

"As your technology partner, we'll provide connectivity, infrastructure to store the data, the integrity of our cyber security solution to ensure our data is secure and our call centre to provide support, among other services," Mr Ndegwa said.

He added that the company has committed close to Sh100 million to the programme, which will be used to subsidise 110,000 smartphones that the government will provide to each CHP.

The event was attended by a number of governors, including Nairobi’s Johnson Sakaja, who said his county has a total of 7,000 CHPs, each of whom receives a stipend of Sh3,700 from the county government.

The CHPs have been recruited to provide primary health care, which aims to transform health services from a curative to a preventive and promotive approach.

Each one of them will visit 100 households every two to three months to provide services to all Kenyans from the comfort of their homes.

Refer cases

The CHPs will refer cases they can't handle to level two and three facilities. At this level, most basic screenings and tests will be offered free of charge, including weight, blood pressure, sugar levels and other primary services.

They will also counsel families on health improvement and disease prevention, provide basic first aid for common illnesses and minor injuries, conduct basic health screening during home visits, and refer to Level Four or Five hospitals depending on the condition of the patients.