By David Kipkorir
Prioritizing research is inevitable on the path towards universal health coverage (UHC), National Commission for Science Technology and Innovation (NACOSTI) Director General Dr. Moses Rugutt has said.
He said harnessing science, technology and innovation is key to delivering novel and affordable healthcare to Kenyans.
“More attention and research should be devoted to the practical issues of UHC implementation. The evidence currently available is not as extensive or clear as it is around the design of UHC systems,” said Dr. Rugutt.
Dr. Rugutt noted that while there are several other important stakeholders in the UHC implementation process, modern technologies including Information Communication and Technology (ICT) and the general population of the country stand out as the most significant.
He was speaking during the launch of the commission’s ISO 9001:2015 certification, Strategic Plan 2018-2022, and National Priorities at a Nairobi Hotel recently.
The director general lamented that the high cost of health care, weak public health and sanitation systems, poor disease diagnosis and the emergence of infectious and non-communicable diseases present a serious impediment to the attainment of UHC.
“It is therefore crucial that plans for the implementation of UHC reforms are delivered promptly and effectively through the use new technologies to enhance disease surveillance, prevention, diagnosis and treatment,” said the expert.
He urged government departments, agencies and partners to promote appropriate technologies in healthcare targeted areas.
The expert added that universal health coverage has re-emerged as a priority for the commission and is an essential element of its Strategic Plan and National Research Priorities 2018-2022.
“It is time to acknowledge that science, technology and innovation (ST and I) are as important as medicines and vaccines in delivering UHC,” said Dr. Rugutt.
The director general assured that ST and I tools help ensure decision makers have the data they need to deliver comprehensive health services for all.
“Complete, accurate and timely research is critical for policymakers and government officials as they work to achieve universal health coverage,” Rugutt added.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines universal health coverage as all individuals and communities having access to high-quality health services without financial hardship.
The ambitious goal of achieving UHC worldwide was amplified when it was included as a target under Sustainable Development Goal 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.
One factor in Kenya that contributes to the belief that UHC is possible is the rapid spread of digital technologies, such as mobile technology.
National Commission for Science and Technology is mandated to regulate and assure quality in the science, technology and innovation sector and advise the government on related matters.