Robust Health Information System, Strong Public Sector will Reduce the burden of Non-Communicable Diseases
By Daniel Otieno-Nairobi
According to a study conducted by the Kenya Ministry of health in 2015, half of the deaths related to non-communicable diseases are related to weak health systems. Weak health systems are characterized by lack of robust health information system, limited public financing of health, lack of medicines, poor infrastructure and a strong public sector. Availability of medicines affects the prevalence of non-communicable diseases. This is because where the required drugs lack, patients are forced to relocate to other health facilities. However, Poverty also influences access to services as the cost of treating non-communicable diseases is out of reach to many. Currently, the Moi Referral and Teaching Hospital and the Kenyatta National Hospital are the only public health facilities with capacity to handle non-communicable diseases such as cancer.
Treatment in private health facilities is costly. Public financing of prevention and treatment of non-communicable diseases also has a bearing on the provision of health services. Being a developing country, public financing of the health sector remains a challenge due to poverty, cost of treating non-communicable diseases and limited access to national Hospital insurance fund. Currently, Kenya allocates 5% of its national budget to health, therefore prevention and treatment of all diseases including non-communicable diseases are based on this percentage. Strong health information system plays a role in addressing the prevalence of non-communicable diseases. One of the gaps identified in the achievement of good health and well-being for all is lack of specific indicators to track situations of non-communicable diseases.
Lack of specific indicators in any health intervention affects the outcomes of that particular intervention. Effective health Information systems will thus enable monitoring of policies associated with prevention of non-communicable diseases. To create a robust information health system, there is need to ensure that monitoring of non-communicable diseases corresponds to interventions in place. Countries must review policies related to risk factors of non-communicable diseases including harmful use alcohol and tobacco. We must also address poverty levels in order to increase coverage of national Hospital Insurance Fund as this will enable affordability of treatment of non-communicable diseases.