Manufacturing, Medical Tourism & Reform: Kenya Woos Investors into Health Sector as Public Hospitals Fail to Cope

Manufacturing, Medical Tourism & Reform: Kenya Woos Investors into Health Sector as Public Hospitals Fail to Cope

Quality health facilities in Kenya are limited and concentrated in the country’s capital, Nairobi. Although there are private hospitals that offer great services — and have specialized equipment — their fees are too high for many. With Kenya’s health facilities unable to keep pace with the demands of its rising population, the shortage is translating into huge opportunities for potential investors.

These opportunities exist in virtually all areas of the medical world, including inpatient and outpatient care, preventative care and diagnostic services. However, it’s a stable government, economic reforms and a large pool of skilled workers that attract potential investors.

Strained Health Services

Kenya’s weak provision of public health services and increased constraint of health resources have opened a gap for private enterprises to step in and fill. Other factors placing a strain on services include poor remuneration of health personnel and the growing affluence of the country’s middle class. Lifestyle diseases have been rising, stretching existing facilities to the limit.

Recent reports indicate that congestion at the Kenyatta National Hospital, the largest referral hospital in the country, has now reached a worrying level.

The most affected are the orthopedic ward and accident and emergency departments. The orthopedic section is supposed to hold 32 patients, but holds up to 110.

The hospital communications officer, Simon Ithae, says that provincial and district hospitals could play a role to ease the hospital’s patient load. Ithae believes these health facilities have the potential to offer equivalent and quality services.

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“We have long queues of patients. Our cardiologists are currently booking patients for the year 2015,” Ithae said.

Government and Public-Private Partnerships

The government is currently working on a health sector public-private partnership strategy — created to allow private investors to get a share in the management and control of public hospitals. It also proposes that private investors get returns on their investments, but at a rate that does not hamper the operations of these facilities. The majority of these are manned by the government, with private enterprises being in charge of 34 per cent of Kenya’s 6,190 health facilities.

Speaking during the opening of Wesley Mission Health Center — which is modeled on the new government strategy — Nakuru County deputy governor Joseph Ruto advocated for a concept that benefits patients.

“We are ready for public-private partnerships (PPPs) to build more health centers as close to the people as possible,” Ruto said.