Director Reproductive Health at the Ministry of Health Isaak Bashir during the launch of the National Reproductive Health Priority Research and Learning agenda 2022 – 2027 in Nairobi on August 2, 2022

Economic stability and healthcare access are closely related.

Poor healthcare might affect social-economic development, economic instability may also influence healthcare access and utilisation.

Amid the post-pandemic period, Kenya continues to suffer heavy inflation rates with a rise in food and fuel prices which may greatly affect the prioritisation of sexual reproductive health at the household level.

According to an IPSOS survey conducted in 2018, nearly half of Kenya’s households earn less than Sh10,000 per month while two per cent have completely no income.

This forces vulnerable and marginalised populations such as adolescents, refugees and those living informal settlements to engage in negative coping strategies.

They include high dependency on credit and engagement in transactional sex in exchange for basic household needs and healthcare is often delayed or not sought at all.

Health financing continues to be a major issue amid the current economic crisis.

Due to the poverty levels, most Kenyans use out-of-pocket as a major source of their health financing despite the existence of the NHIF scheme.

Funding for sexual reproductive health is often donor-dependent and threatens the sustainability of these services.

The ripple effects of these financial gaps impact the most vulnerable groups who most often are not able to access affordable sexual reproductive health services even in public facilities due to huge commodity stockouts.

It is worth noting that Kenya cannot achieve access to Universal Healthcare Coverage without prioritising the sexual and reproductive health needs of its population.

For sustained social and economic development, the country should adopt sustainable models and innovations that will leverage existing economic opportunities.

Providing equal educational, employment and healthcare opportunities to the country’s youthful population will have a greater impact on a country’s demographic dividend.

The constrained resources call for a new normal of task shifting in healthcare including the use of self-care approaches that will reduce the cost and increase access to affordable healthcare.

Stakeholders should therefore develop structures and policy environments that will facilitate the domestication of the WHO Consolidated self-care guidelines.

Prioritising subsidies and tax exception/reduction to essential households and streamlining SRHR commodity procurement, are recommended actions for solutions to access affordable quality health care.

The national and devolved government should prioritise Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights in its budget allocation and intervention well outlined in the implementation plan for the achievement of UHC as a health and human right.

The increased number of elected women is a sign of hope for prioritisation and advancement of access to affordable comprehensive sexual reproductive health.

We call upon elected women leaders of this country to prioritise access to fundamental health care and the creation of enabling environment for domestication and formulation of progressive sexual reproductive health rights policies.

By admin