With a Full Picture of Its Healthcare Workforce, Kenya Looks to Fill the Gaps

For the first time, Kenya now has a complete picture of its healthcare workforce, which will help officials address critical shortages and uneven distribution of health professionals that leaves rural and hard-to-reach areas without adequate healthcare.

The new report on the status of Kenya’s healthcare workforce was derived from data gathered and analyzed by regulatory human resource information systems (rHRIS), which were developed with support from the African Health Workforce Project (AHWP) at The Task Force for Global Health.

“This report represents the culmination of a very long journey,” said Martha Rogers, MD, AHWP director.

Since 2002, the AHWP has been working with Kenya’s Ministry of Health and the country’s eight health professional and regulatory agencies to develop and implement a family of rHRIS. These systems track and regulate the training, licensing, and certification requirements of different cadres of health professionals – information which is critical to effective health workforce management.

The report found that Kenya has only 13.8 doctors, nurses, and midwives per 10,000 people, far below the World Health Organization recommendation of 44.5 per 10,000 needed in order to provide universal health coverage. The report also found that rural and hard-to-reach areas do not have enough qualified healthcare personnel to meet the needs of communities.

Rogers said the new report allows ministry of health officials to quantify the gaps in the healthcare system and how much the training pipeline needs to improve to address these gaps.

Kenya’s success with the HRIS has attracted the interest of other countries in East Africa. “The Kenya system is now seen as a best practice in terms of workforce management,” said Rogers.

The AHWP is assisting Zambia in developing its own rHRIS and other countries have also expressed interest in developing similar systems.

“Kenya’s report on the status of its health professionals is very much serving as a regional model,” said Rose Kiriinya, AHWP senior research analyst. “It’s an encouragement to other countries for how information can be used to identify existing gaps in the professional healthcare workforce and manage scarce resources to achieve equitable and quality health service delivery.”

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