Kenya has surpassed the World Health Organization’s (WHO) requirement of balancing the number of health workers available to the population, but faces a crisis in staff distribution, health officials said on Wednesday.
Kenyan Public Health Ministry official Hannah Kimemia said the East African nation had deployed 17,000 nurses and health workers to a population of about 40 million, above the WHO’s recommended ratio of 15,000 health workers.
The health authorities are currently working to re-direct the workload appropriately to avoid over-burdening the available healthcare workers, who have moved to other countries in search of better paying jobs and better equipped medical facilities.
“WHO workload analysis guidelines will help us to re-direct the staff where they should be,” Kimemia said, when asked to explain the reason for shortage of health workers, amid the reports that the country has over-deployed health workers.
He was speaking during a three-day conference in Nairobi which brought together stakeholders in the health sector from public, private and Faith Based Organizations (FBOs).
The objectives of the conference are to avail a platform for placing the health workforce as a priority in the health strategy and national development agenda towards Vision 2030 and devise ways and means to mitigate the negative effects of health worker migration on the national health system,.
Shahnaz Sharif, the Public Health Director at the ministry, told a conference on human resources for health, the focus on health workers shortage was to ensure the 16 essential items listed by the WHO as critical to healthcare services were met.
“Some of these may not be under our control but some are under our control,” Sharif said. The factors which affect the healthcare workers include lack of adequate housing, poor working environments, including lack of essential supplies like gloves.
“I was at a hospital in Kilifi, (coastal region of Kenya) and the situation at most hospitals are pathetic. The doctors do not have gloves. This makes exposure to diseases more critical to the healthcare workers,” said a medical doctor, who sought anonymity.