JANUARY 2012, NAIROBI, KENYA: A national conference on HRH, the first of its kind in Kenya, was held in Nairobi on the 7th to the 9th of December 2011. Led by the Kenyan Government in partnership with the USAID funded and the Intraheath run CapacityPlus project, the conference resulted in a resound “call of action” in Human Resources for Health in Kenya.
The conference was widely attended by over 300 delegates of development partners and organizations. The Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the African Development Bank in particular were very active in participating in the proceedings. JICA sent 6 delegates to the event and came forward with a new project called “Partnership in Health System Strengthening” which supports 14 African countries in strengthening the skills and leadership of health sector managers.
Delegates were exposed and encouraged to contribute to various topics and issues, including the private sector and the Kenyan Healthcare Federation. With 30% of the health workforce in Kenya trained by the private sector, Public Private Partnerships were also of great interest to participating organizations, such as the African Development Bank.
The conference also came at a time of change for the Kenyan Health system administration with the integration and unification of the two ministries of health and an emphasis on the decentralization of the health system in the new constitution, providing great opportunities for development partners.
Like many countries in Afirca, Kenya is experiencing a crisis in HRH, compounded by several factors, including: the inability to attract and retain health workers; performance management and productivity issues; unequal distribution of health workers; and the migration of health workers to other countries.
The “call for action” developed in the conference provided 12 key recommendations to advance HRH in Kenya. The delegates of the conference declared a call for action to:
1. Engage all HRH stakeholders to strengthen HRH in Kenya;
2. Provide national effective leadership for the HRH;
3. Do everything possible to mitigate the impact of Health Workforce migration on the health services and the health of the Kenyans;
4. Share and promote HRH best practices;
5. Scale up the production of HRH in both numbers and the quality of health workers;
6. Drive and maintain a national level policy dialogue of the key HRH issues;
7. Mobilize and steer Public Private Partnership in the HRH areas;
8. Establish a framework of Communities of Practice involving the right HRH stakeholders;
9. Mobilize and scale up infrastructure needed;
10. Innovatively address HRH challenges in Kenya;
11. Engage with stakeholders to establish HRH budget line;
12. Document the progress of those recommendations and report to the next HRH Conference no later than two years from now.