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Unlocking Access to Healthcare in Kenya

Machel-Mandela fellow Natalya Oberst writes of the obstacles to accessing quality healthcare in Kenya, the system's inefficiencies and the debate surrounding universal healthcare coverage.

Natalya Oberst

Former Machel-Mandela Fellow

Book / Publication · Published 10 March 2021



In investigating the barriers to accessing quality healthcare in Kenya, inefficiencies in service delivery and economic exclusion emerged as the main deterrents to attaining universal access to health services.

Though the ongoing interventions under the universal health coverage umbrella are a step in the right direction; demand side policies, through social insurance programmes, have so far proved insufficient in stimulating health seeking behaviour particularly in impoverished communities. Further, supply side gaps threaten the sustainability of the UHC framework as a result of ineffective financing strategies and the politicisation of health policy choices.

This paper argues that better investments in the health sector, good governance and a people-centred policy approach to economic growth will pave the way for economic recovery in Kenya and other African economies, once the health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have been subdued.

In this regard, the steps taken by the incumbent, Kenya’s 4th president Uhuru Kenyatta, in seeing the UHC promise to completion; will not only determine his legacy, but also set the stage for his successor in the upcoming 2022 elections.



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