Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said Monday his government is working on consolidating the country’s position as a regional healthcare hub.
Kenyatta, who officially opened the first Kenya Healthcare Convention in Nairobi, said Kenya already attracts patients from several countries in the region including Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, D. R. Congo, Tanzania, Ethiopia, South Sudan and Nigeria.
“Kenya’s position as a regional resource for high-quality healthcare is a huge advantage that needs to be leveraged further,” he said in a statement issued after the launch.
Kenyatta said despite leading the region in the provision of quality health services, Kenya still has several aspects that need improvement.
The two-day convention seeks to highlight achievements from the counties since the devolution of health services and showcase leading companies, institutions and organizations successfully providing services in this industry, drive engagement in health service delivery and showcase collaborative achievements between government and private sector.
He said the over 10,000 Kenyans who travel abroad to seek specialized medical services cost the economy in excess of 10 billion shillings (100 million U.S. dollars) every year.
He noted that Africa spends an average of 3.8 billion dollars on specialized medical treatment abroad, an amount he said Kenya needs to tap.
Kenyatta challenged healthcare stakeholders to converge towards the improvement of the quality of healthcare and commended county governments for the efforts they have made to improve access to quality healthcare.
“The sustained commitment of resources towards health, averaging 30 percent of county budgets, has seen increased recruitment of health workers and availability of essential medicines and other medical commodities,” he said.
The president noted that Kenya’s healthcare industry has a longstanding tradition of close cooperation between the public and the private sector.
He said the close cooperation between the two sectors has enabled the country to extend crucial services to hard-to-reach regions of the country.
Health Cabinet secretary Mutahi Kagwe said Kenya is positioning itself as a destination for health tourism and challenged health sector players to ensure they serve affordable and quality healthcare.
Kagwe called on health professionals to observe high standards of integrity and ensure that Kenyans get value for money whenever they seek medical services.