Kenya: Spotlight on Makueni County

Makueni County, Kenya, is a place close to our heart at Amref Health Africa UK.

Situated in-between the capital, Nairobi, and Mombasa on the coast, the region is home to over 800,000 people. It is a remote place, with few urban centres and a high level of poverty.

Amref UK, together with our colleagues in Kenya and our partner, Comic Relief, delivered a project in Makueni County from 2012 to 2016, called Mama na Mtoto wa Afrika. It took place across eleven different health facilities and was very successful, ensuring more women gave birth with the presnce of a skilled midwife: from just 37.5% at the start of the project, to 92% only four years later. Amref also increased the immunisation rate for children by 15% during the project.

With these good news stories fresh in our mind, but aware of the many ongoing challenges facing communities across Makueni County, we were delighted to learn that our Amref colleagues in the Netherlands and Kenya, together with the officials of Makueni Country and the healthcare company Phillips, will be working together in Kenya to trial an innovative approach to improving health facilities.

In a new public-private partnership, the Makueni County Government will outsource the operations of three primary health clinics to Amref and Philips. Amref will deliver capacity-building and health worker training, while Philips will provide the health system infrastructure and the medical equipment in the clinics. Makueni County will continue to be responsible for policy, regulation and quality management, while the Dutch development bank FMO are providing legal and business expertise to the partnership.

The model will be tested at three facilities in Makueni County: Emali, Matiku, and Tutini. The study will run for one year during which it is expected to improve access to high-quality, financially-sustainable primary health care - as well as provide vital insight into options for the future.

Speaking during the signing ceremony, Makueni County Minister of Health Dr Andrew Mulwa said the goal of the study is to significantly improve access to health care for 20,000 residents:

"This new and innovative approach of outsourcing operations of primary health clinics to non-government actors is a first of its kind model in Kenya and can revolutionise health care in Makueni, leading to positive health impact and more financially sustainable care."

This partnership is an example of what can be achieved when different organisations with different skillsets work together to achieve a common goal, and we are delighted that Amref is continuing to support women, men and children in Makueni County.

A version of this article was first published here.