Brault MA, Ngure K, Haley CA, Kabaka S, Sergon K, Desta T, Mwinga K, Vermund SH, Kipp AM. The introduction of new policies and strategies to reduce inequities and improve child health in Kenya: A country case study on progress in child survival, 2000-2013. PloS one. 12(12). e0181777. PMID: 28763454 [PubMed] PMCID: PMC5538680
As of 2015, only 12 countries in the World Health Organization's AFRO region had met Millennium Development Goal #4 (MDG#4) to reduce under-five mortality by two-thirds by 2015. Given the variability across the African region, a four-country study was undertaken to examine barriers and facilitators of child survival prior to 2015. Kenya was one of the countries selected for an in-depth case study due to its insufficient progress in reducing under-five mortality, with only a 28% reduction between 1990 and 2013. This paper presents indicators, national documents, and qualitative data describing the factors that have both facilitated and hindered Kenya's efforts in reducing child mortality. Key barriers identified in the data were widespread socioeconomic and geographic inequities in access and utilization of maternal, neonatal, and child health (MNCH) care. To reduce these inequities, Kenya implemented three major policies/strategies during the study period: removal of user fees, the Kenya Essential Package for Health, and the Community Health Strategy. This paper uses qualitative data and a policy review to explore the early impacts of these efforts. The removal of user fees has been unevenly implemented as patients still face hidden expenses. The Kenya Essential Package for Health has enabled construction and/or expansion of healthcare facilities in many areas, but facilities struggle to provide Emergency Obstetric and Neonatal Care (EmONC), neonatal care, and many essential medicines and commodities. The Community Health Strategy appears to have had the most impact, improving referrals from the community and provision of immunizations, malaria prevention, and Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV. However, the Community Health Strategy is limited by resources and thus also unevenly implemented in many areas. Although insufficient progress was made pre-2015, with additional resources and further scale-up of new policies and strategies Kenya can make further progress in child survival.