Kenya will fast track the enactment of a Health Bill that will consolidate all health laws, a government official said on Thursday.
Ministry of Health Director of Public Health Dr Shahnaaz Sharif told Xinhua in Nairobi that there currently over 21 laws that regulate the sector.
“The bill seeks to streamline the health sector so as to make it easier for the government to achieve the mandate of quality health for all,” Sharif said on the sidelines of the launch of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Standards and Guidelines for the Health Sector.
He added that his ministry is working on a draft Bill that will be presented to the Attorney General Office within the next one month.
“The previous one was developed without taking into account the implications of the new constitution.
“It will then be presented to the cabinet for approval before being tabled in parliament,” the director said.
He noted that the Bill is long overdue given that Kenya has adopted a system of devolved power.
Shariff noted that there is a lot of fragmentation and this has lead to duplication of efforts by both government and donor community.
The health official said that the new technology will enhance information exchanges so that the country achieves better health outcomes.
He said that the government recognizes that ICT is the backbone for economic growth in any sector.
“We will also ensure that the guidelines conform to World Health Organization Health Informatics Standards,” Sharif said.
“The guidelines will also provide a medium for effective provision of health services across the country,” he said.
According to the ministry, the government is in the process of rolling out an Electronic Medical Records system to over 600 facilities countrywide.
He said that ICT will also be a critical tool of assisting devolved governments to enhance service delivery so that all the county governments adopt uniform ICT standards.
“However, the challenge will be to leverage the guidelines so as to take advantage of the private sectorâ€™s comparative advantage, ” the director said.
He added that the ministry has already achieved other major strides in digitizing health records.
“Implementation of a national reporting system and a district health information system is already in place,” Sharif said.
He noted that health improvement is a prerequisite for accelerated national development through increased productivity.
“It is also a key pillar of the countryâ€™s national economic blue print, Vision 2030,” he said.
Ministry of Health Government and Donor Department Coordinator Dr Samuel Were said that the development of the health policy is currently in the final stages.
“However, implementation of the regulations requires a legal framework which the consolidated health law will provide.
“The policy will define the priority areas that Kenya will focus on if it is to achieve a healthy population,” he said.
Were also called for the development of ICT business innovation.
“This will be used to accelerate local consumption of ICTs in the health sector in Kenya,” he said.
He added that currently the countryâ€™s operates many ICT platforms.
“The guidelines will ensure that all the ICT systems deployed are interoperable,” the coordinator said.
Kenyaâ€™s ICT standards have been developed in conjunction with the Futures Group.
Senior Technical Manager Mwenda Gitonga said that the standards will give the baselines on how to apply ICT in the health sector.
“It will also cement Kenya as the leading ICT innovator in the region,” Gitonga said.
He added that the guidelines will provide the necessary procedures to ensure that patientsâ€™ information is safeguarded.