The Community Health Services (CHS) Bill is a proposed legislation in Kenya that seeks to legitimize the role of communities in health. The bill provides for the enumeration, remuneration, recognition, and career progression of Community Health Volunteers (CHVs) who are nominated by community members. Each county in Kenya needs to enact the CHS bill to legislate CHS implementation as envisaged in the Kenya Health Act 2017 this will help in improving the health outcomes of the people in their respective counties.
Community Health Services play a crucial role in improving the health outcomes of the population in Kenya, especially in rural areas where access to healthcare services is limited, reduces the flow of patients to the higher health system levels and has a return on investment of 10:1 . CHS provides a cost-effective and sustainable approach to healthcare delivery by leveraging the knowledge and skills of community members in promoting health and preventing disease. The CHVs provide essential services such as health education, basic curative, disease prevention, and early detection of illnesses, which contribute to reducing the burden on the formal health system. Therefore, the importance of Community Health Services in Kenya cannot be overemphasized as it is a key strategy for achieving universal health coverage and improving the health and well-being of the population.
In the long run, CHS assists in maintaining the health of the population which contributes to the Nation’s economic development
Why Each County Needs to Enact the CHS Bill:
- Improved Healthcare Services: CHVs are the first point of contact for healthcare in most rural areas in Kenya. By enacting the CHS bill, each county will be able to recognize the contribution of CHVs and support them to provide better healthcare services to the people.
- Enumeration: The CHS bill will facilitate the creation of a database of CHVs in each county. This will enable county governments to track the number of CHVs, their location, and the services they provide. The data will also help in planning and resource allocation for the county health system.
- Remuneration: The proposed 50-50 payment of stipends for all 100,000 CHVs at the county level will provide financial support to CHVs. This will enable them to continue providing healthcare services to their communities without facing financial challenges. The bill also provides a way at the county level to operationalize the payment of CHVs in the county.
- Recognition and Career Progression: The CHS bill will provide a career pathway for CHVs, which will enable them to advance their skills and knowledge. This will lead to the professionalization of the CHV cadre, which will improve the quality of healthcare services provided at the community level.
The enactment of the CHS bill in each county in Kenya is crucial in legitimizing the role of the community in their health. The bill will facilitate the enumeration, remuneration, recognition, and career progression of CHVs. This will lead to improved healthcare services, especially in rural areas. The proposed 50-50 payment of stipends for all 100,000 CHVs at the county level is a welcome move towards achieving this objective. Each county government should prioritize the enactment of the CHS bill to improve the health outcomes of their people.