BY ONYIMBI NELSON
Prevention is better than cure, the adage goes, yet curative healthcare expenditures still cost the taxpayer and the Ministry of Health millions of shillings annually that could be injected into other deserving sectors if a paradigm shift could see a prioritization of preventive healthcare.
Currently, curative healthcare costs supersede those of preventive healthcare by far. The essence of preventive health is to try to stop the advancement of illness, reduce the chance of disability and the costs of health, and increase the chances of human survival.
One of the areas of focus for preventive health should be contraception and family planning. Statistically, many young girls and women still cannot attain their full potential due to the absence of contraception information and commodities.
The need for this is illustrated by a national contraceptive prevalence rate of only 43.5% in 2020 (according to Statista) for all women against an unmet need for contraception of about 54%. Some school-going girls who get pregnant drop out of school, and sometimes lose the opportunity to enroll back in some cultures due to taking up parental responsibilities.
Some of these pregnancies are taken to term, while others are terminated. Some terminations end up getting assigned to backstreet dealers or quacks who risk the lives of the service seekers due to the absence of the relevant standards and guidelines for service provision.
For example, according to APRHC, in 2012 about 465,000 young girls and women procured abortion services. This is only a recorded figure, whereas the unrecorded figures as well as deaths arising from the services remain unknown.
To secure the future generations of the country, it is imperative that preventive health takes a central place in health programming, and practices such as health promotion are upscaled. This would also ease the burden imposed by non-communicable diseases such as cancers and heart diseases, which account for about 44 million, or 74% of global annual deaths. To prevent these deaths, relevant standards and guidelines also need to be put in place and enforced.
Additionally, the government needs to fortify the national insurance system with clear-cut benefits that will aid the prevention of innumerable diseases by facilitating crucial immunizations and newborn health services, counseling, regular medical check-ups, screenings, tests, and early diagnosis of a broad spectrum of diseases to necessitate their effective treatment.
NAYA Youth Advocate,