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Source: Small Island Developing States

June 2019: The UN Development Operations Coordination Office (DOCO), with the Dag Hammarskjold Foundation, studied Kenya’s experience in raising private-sector financing and support to provide healthcare for all. The study is part of a broader research effort to identify, document, analyze and share best practices from UN Country Teams that have successfully accessed financing for the SDGs.

The study findings, published as a report titled, ‘Unlocking SDG Financing: Findings from Early Adopters: Kenya’s Quest to Achieve Health Care for All,’ indicate that the Government of Kenya fully backed the quest for universal health care (UHC) in its ‘Big 4 Action Plan’ launched in January 2018. Kenya has taken steps to promote health insurance, including revising its National Hospital Insurance Fund Act. DOCO’s findings highlight the need for the UN to recruit skilled local staff, engage local suppliers, and clearly represent the UN’s role as a trusted and neutral broker.

UN bodies should ensure seed funding can be provided for joint initiatives with the private sector.

SDG target 3.7 seeks to ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive healthcare services by 2030, and target 3.8 seeks to achieve universal health coverage (UHC). The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has highlighted that 800 women around the world die each day from complications of childbirth, while many more suffer serious long-term health impacts. UNICEF emphasizes some of the factors that would improve this state of affairs: ensuring that women have access to skilled health workers who can provide antenatal care and attend the birth, and improving access to C-sections, especially in developing countries where the need is greatest. UNICEF reports that pregnancy-related complications are the leading cause of death in girls aged 15-19 years.

Kenya has addressed this issue through the Private Sector Health Partnership Kenya (PSHP Kenya), which was established in September 2015 at the launch of a joint strategy for the health of women, children and adolescents. UNICEF’s Every Woman Every Child (EWEC) secretariat provided technical support for this effort, and several large companies, including telecommunications companies Safaricom and Huawei, as well as Philips, MSD/Merck, Unilever and Glaxo Smith Klein are supporting the government’s work to improve maternal health in the six counties that account for almost 50% of all maternal deaths in Kenya.

Partnership activities include a mobile obstetric monitoring research project conducted by Phillips International with Kenya’s Ministry of Health, the UN Population Agency (UNFPA), and others, a pilot project that carries out digital monitoring of women with high-risk pregnancies in Lamu County, conducted by Safaricom and Huawei, and an electronic management system for health facilities to improve patient tracking, supported by Huawei.

The UN is also hosting an SDG Philanthropy Platform at the office of the UN Resident Coordinator in Kenya, to support coordination of philanthropic activity with the UN Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF).

The DOCO study notes that official development assistance (ODA) is declining in Kenya, and encourages greater engagement with local suppliers and locally-recruited senior staff. The findings also state that UN bodies should aim to secure sufficient resources so that seed funding can be provided for joint initiatives with the private sector.

DOCO serves as the secretary of the UN Sustainable Development Group, which coordinates efforts across the UN development system to deliver on sustainable development. The co-publisher of this study, the Dag Hammarskjold Foundation, seeks to advance dialogue and policy for sustainable development and peace.

The UN General Assembly (UNGA) will hold a high-level meeting on UHC in September 2019, with a political declaration under negotiation by UN Member States, led by the Permanent Representatives of Georgia and Thailand. [Publication: Unlocking SDG Financing: Findings from Early Adopters: Kenya’s Quest to Achieve Health Care for All]

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