Cabinet Secretary for Health Nakumicha S. Wafula has affirmed the Ministry’s unwavering commitment to patient safety and active patient engagement.
The cabinet secretary declared that her office will be a steadfast advocate for a healthcare system that not onlyprotects patients but also empowers them to be active participants in their health journey.
This announcement from CS Nakumicha is part of her reformation agenda as the Cabinet Secretary in ensuring that no one is left behind in accessing quality health care.
CS Nakhumicha was the co-chair of this year’s World Global Patient Safety Day that was convened in Geneva and the CS co-chaired virtually from Kenya.
“Our dedication towards patient rights and safety extends beyond mere rhetoric, withconcrete actions taken to prioritize patient involvement in policy formulation, governance structures, safety protocols, and their own individual care.” CS Nakumicha shared with the changeleaders.
This meeting between CS Nakumicha’s office and the Nguvu Changeleaders was momentous because the theme for this year’s World Patient Safety Day was “Engaging patients for patient safety”.
These Nguvu Changeleaders are passionate health advocates from across many counties in Kenya. In recent times, they have launched successful national online advocacy campaigns collectively endorsed by 6,355 individuals.
“Our campaigns are the collective voices of Kenyan citizens, who are appealing to work with the government in building strong policies and systems around patient care. We appreciate the commitment that CS Nakumicha has shown towards giving patients a platform for advocating for our rights,” Deborah Monari, Nguvu Change Leader said.
The meeting, which extended over an hour, revolved around enhancing healthcare services, safeguarding patient rights, promoting mental health awareness, support, and prioritizing disability inclusion in Kenya’s healthcare system.
CS Nakumicha’s office received representations from the Nguvu Changeleaders on the following topics.
Patient Rights & Dignity: John Mwangi from Nakuru spearheaded the call to sensitize staff in mental health facilities to eradicate human rights abuses of patients.
Deborah Monari from Nairobi and Harriet Afandi from Vihiga county echoed these sentiments, advocating for the establishment and reinforcement of patient rights committees to prevent medical malpractice and uphold patient dignity.
Establishment, Regulation & Oversight: Deborah Monari emphasized the need to
investigate, regulate, and monitor patient complaint departments in hospitals for effective resolution of patient concerns. Change leaders also pressed for the establishment of such departments where they are non-existent.
Accessibility & Inclusivity: Josephine Mwende, a change leader from Nairobi with cerebral palsy, passionately addressed the challenges in accessing maternal care. She called for a toll-free hotline to report discrimination against individuals with disabilities and the creation of special consultation rooms for women with disabilities, aiming to make healthcare services universally accessible.
Awareness & Training: Josephine Mwende further emphasized the importance of collaborating with the Council of Governors to initiate awareness programs targeting all healthcare staff cadres, facilitating a more inclusive and sensitive healthcare environment.
Mental Health & Suicide Decriminalization: Ross Alwala, Ignatius Sylvester, Amondi Awour, and Simon Waiyaki, from Kisumu & Nairobi counties urged the Ministry of Health to establish more mental health service departments in hospitals, ensure access, play a pivotal role in ending the stigma around mental health issues and decriminalizing suicide, recognizing these as vital issues transcending mere legal concerns.
The office of CS Nakumicha connected the changeleaders to relevant departments/persons for further conversations and assured that they would keep a close tab on the developments on these campaigns. The authorities who would make progress on these campaigns are:
·Patient Safety & Medical Negligence: Dr. Kioko Jackson, CEO of the Kenya Health Professionals Oversight Authority (KHPOA).
· Disability Inclusive Health Services: Senator Crystal Asige, correspondent for policies ensuring the rights of persons with disabilities to health services.
· Mental Health: Dr. Nasri Omar, Focus Person for Mental Health, Systems, and Policy at the Division of Mental Health.