Kenya’s strategic partnership with UK to strengthen healthcare sector


President Uhuru Kenyatta is seeking to forge a strategic partnership with University of Manchester and Christie NHS Foundation aimed at strengthening healthcare sector in the country.

The partnership will see the University of Manchester and Christie NHS Foundation Trust collaborate with Kenyatta University Teaching Research and Referral Hospital (KUTRRH) in the prevention and management of non-communicable diseases with special emphasis on cancer and mental health.

President Kenyatta this morning at State House, Nairobi held talks with visiting officials of the University of Manchester and Christie NHS Foundation as a follow up of the signing of an MoU between Kenya and the two British institutions on the sidelines of the recent UK-Africa investment summit in London.

The agreement provides for the training as well as exchange of health professionals including Kenyan nurses who will get an opportunity to serve in Britain.

How will Kenya Benefit from this?

According to a statement from the Presidential Strategic Communications Unit (PSCU) Kenya will benefit from a comprehensive skills upgrade programme for health experts in specialist areas such as heart, kidney and cancer diseases.

Through this partnership, Kenya will receive support to establish a cancer centre of excellence at the KUTRRH.

“Our desire is not only to make Kenyatta University a Centre for Research and Treatment but also to reduce the costs in treatment of non-communicable diseases,” the President said noting that the cancer centre will be linked to regional hubs to facilitate early diagnosis and treatment of the disease.

The cancer burden is rising globally, exerting significant strain on populations and health systems at all income levels. In Kenya, cancer is the 3rd leading cause of death after infectious and cardiovascular diseases. The International Agency for Research in Cancer (IARC) GLOBOCAN report for 2018 estimated 47,887 new cases of cancer annually with a mortality of 32,987. This represents close to 45% increase in incidence compared to the previous report that estimated 37,000 new cancer cases annually with an annualmortality 28,500 in 2012.

The partnership between the two UK institutions and KUTRRH will therefore go a long away in fulfilling President Kenyatta’s promise to do everything in his power to bring down the costs of cancer treatment in the country.

Cancer is the third leading cause of death in Kenya, after infectious and cardiovascular diseases.

“We are building hospitals but we don’t have the capacity that’s why we seek collaboration in training our people and build their capacity to provide adequate services to our people up to the grassroots,” said President Kenyatta.

Win-win Kenya and the UK

President Kenyatta said he is keen on establishing this partnership to ensure that Kenya and the UK both benefit from this.

Speaking on behalf of the University of Manchester and the Christie NHS Foundation Prof Keith Brennan said his team is determined to ensure the collaboration works for the good of two countries.

“We are very grateful to be here soon after our engagement in the UK and we are looking forward to finalizing this historic venture,” said Prof Keith who is also the Associate Dean for Internationalization at Manchester University.

The UK officials will hold a series of meeting with Kenyatta University and Kenya’s Ministry of Health officials with the aim of kick-starting the collaboration in coming months.

Besides KUTRRH, the Kisii Teaching and Referral Hospital (KTRH) will be the other major beneficiary of the deal that will see appendages and radiotherapies established across the country.

Present during the State House meeting were outgoing Health CS Sicily Kariuki, Kisii Governor James Ongwae and Health PS Susan Mochache.

Professor Keith was accompanied by the University of Manchester Vice Dean for Social Responsibility Prof Mahesh Nirmalan, the Christie NHS Foundation Executive Medical Director Prof Christopher Harrison and the Director of Christie School of Oncology Professor Richard Cowan.

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Yvonne Kawira is an award winning journalist with an interest in matters, regional trade, tourism, entrepreneurship and aviation. She has been practicing for six years and has a degree in mass communication from St Paul’s University.

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