Home Breaking Striking the Balance Between a Healthy Nation-Driven Approach and Economic-Driven Approach for...

Striking the Balance Between a Healthy Nation-Driven Approach and Economic-Driven Approach for Growth of Country

The Nairobi West Hospital entrance: The health facility has been receiving negative public feedback

There is an old, yet frequently used adage that says a healthy nation is a wealthy nation…and to most extent this is true. But isn’t it also true that a poor nation is an unhealthy nation?

“This is a very interesting statement, if one thinks of it critically, was Jayesh Saini’s comment when asked on what he thinks should be a priority. He said the two must grow together, stating that if the nation is so poor, its people cannot afford healthcare services, let alone eating and living healthily to avoid sickness and diseases. On the other hand if the nation is comprised of so many sick people or very critical diseases, the economy will not grow as the people are kept away from productive lives and whatever resources are available are used for medical bills.

This is made clear in the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) where there is a clear interrelationship between economic growth and health. The SDG 3 on health seeks to “Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages” with Target 3.8 being to “achieve Universal Health Coverage, including financial risk protection, access to quality essential health-care services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all. Right in the heart of a health SDG, we see factors to do with finances and affordability.

SDG 8, focuses on economic growth and aims  to “promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all” with one of its targets Target 8.5 being “By 2030, achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for young people and persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value”. Again in the heart of economic growth is all people being involved to achieve a goal.

Jayesh believes that promoting health lifestyles is very key to freeing resources for ill-health interventions. He says that for long, interventions have been more on treatment when ill health strikes, and this costs much more than if the diseases were prevented as much as is humanly possible. He also believes that the development of an effective healthcare system should also focus on building high standards of primary healthcare facilities with affordable charges for all people. This way, even minor ailments are dealt with before they become critical and thus reducing the medical expenditure.

Unfortunately, most primary care facilities are underequipped and end up not serving the purpose for why they were put up in the first place. This is in spite of having a very well-thought-out and planned designs with all key departments forming part of the structures that have been set up but with no resources to commensurate the buildings. This was made evident when COVID-19 hit the nation with infections becoming alarming, and the primary care facilities could not handle it, let alone the tertiary care facilities. At county levels there was panic and desperation propelled by fear as people, the government and the citizens, came to the realization how venerable they were with very many yet poorly functioning health facilities.

With a good primary healthcare in place, high level tertiary facilities would be on referral basis as conditions move from lower level to higher level facilities. The pressure on hospitals like Kenyatta would be reduced and the hospital would focus on critical cases, with development of facilities that would also reduce the number of cases being referred to other countries.

The government should encourage setting up of advanced levels of training facilities and curriculum and also ensure that these brains graduating are absorbed into the system and reduce brain drain as much as is possible with proper working conditions and remunerations. This development would improve health outcomes, increase specialties treatable in the country, create avenues of employment and with extra skilled personnel open the country for skills transfer to other countries, again aiding economic growth.

It is important that while this primary healthcare is being streamlined to meet the required standards, policies and infrastructure should be in place to ensure people at all levels of society have access to resources to carry out businesses that would sustain them and help their personal and household growth. Resources are county levels should be exploited to maximum so as to be economically sufficient and where possible inter-county extra resource selling encouraged for economic growth.