18th health consultative forum kicks off

The 18th health sector intergovernmental consultative forum opened on Thursday amid renewed optimism that the country is on course towards realizing its health agenda.

The two-day forum dubbed “Beyond COVID-19 to Achieve Universal Health Coverage” brings together health sector managers from national and county governments, the Public Service Commission, the national treasury and development partners to share experiences in managing devolved health services.

Speaking in Naivasha while opening the two-day forum, Health Chief Administrative Secretary Dr Rashid Aman said the meeting marked yet another critical milestone in Kenya's journey of implementing health policies jointly developed under a devolved system of governance.

"In particular, this forum is timely as it allows the National Government and County Governments to look at the progress made in implementing the health agenda, especially in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. Importantly, this, coming shortly after the 7th Annual Devolution Conference, offers us an excellent opportunity to reflect on emerging health issues affecting all of us." Observed the Health CAS.

This even as he challenged county administrations to continue championing for strict implementation of Public Health and Social Measures, including proper use of face masks, social distancing, handwashing or use of hand sanitisers at all times while remaining on high alert.

“I call on our colleagues at the Counties and our Development partners to come in strongly at the grassroots in mobilizing eligible unvaccinated members of the public to show up and get themselves and their families vaccinated and thus protected from the dangers of COVID-19.” Dr Rashid urged the forum.

He called on those attending the forum to prioritize issues on Human Resources for Health, Health Products and Technologies, service delivery, research and innovation, as well as have a look at what the Ministry in consultation with counties and other stakeholders have developed to guide the implementation of the Universal Health Coverage.

Addressing the forum, Acting Director-General for health Dr Patrick Amoth said the discovery of the Omicron variant presents the world with a new challenge. At least 18 countries have already detected the variant since it was first identified and reported on the 24th of November this year.

"Preliminary evidence suggests high transmissibility and an increased risk of re-infection with this variant, as compared to other variants of concern", Observed Dr Amoth.

To slow its spread, the acting Director-General called for continued adherence to all the Public Health Social Measures, ramping up of Covid-19 vaccination, enforcement of Public Health and Social Measures, as well as enhanced vigilance and preparedness.

National Taskforce on Vaccine Deployment Chairperson Dr Willis Akhwale said vaccinations remain vital in building herd immunity among the population. According to Akhwale, Kenya will have received at least 25 million Covid-19 vaccine doses by the end of the year, with the country now having already commenced mass vaccinations.

"Even with the emergence of variants, vaccines have continued to offer protection. Ninety-five per cent of current admissions in the country are unvaccinated, with statistics indicating that the unvaccinated shed more viruses than the vaccinated." Observed Akhwale.

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