Kisii University signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the University of Manchester and The Christie Hospital, United Kingdom, aimed at developing a Centre of Excellence in Health Education and Training (CEHET) in the county.
The MOU was signed by Kisii Governor, James Ongwae, Kisii University Vice-Chancellor (VC), Professor John Akama, University of Manchester Vice President (VP), Professor Graham Lord, and Professor Richard Cowan of the Christie Hospital at the proposed site for the project in Nyosia area, in Kisii Central Sub County.
Speaking during the launch, Ongwae said the region was committed to the project’s implementation because health is a basic service and thanked the national government and the leadership of the Lake Region Economic Bloc for supporting the initiative.
On his part, Professor Lord said the facility will be a financially self-sufficient centre through recruitment of overseas students and vowed to work together with the county to develop a resilient and flexible multi-professional health workforce with strong interprofessional working skills capable of dealing with the rising incidence of Non-Communicable Diseases.
Lake Region Economic Bloc Chairman and Kakamega Governor, Wycliffe Oparanya, said the dream of the country’s founding fathers was to fight poverty, illiteracy and diseases. He thanked the national government for coming up with the Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
Oparanya appealed to institutions to carry out research and identify how to make cancer treatment affordable saying that cancer cases are always on the rise in the country.
He thanked donors and development partners for supporting them in establishing the structures saying despite the Economic Bloc becoming the most vibrant in the country, they have faced legal issues making it hard to actualize some of its objectives.
Kisii University VC, Professor Akama,, said the project is a major milestone because it offers an opportunity for the county to achieve one of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big Four Agendas of UHC.
“We have a unique opportunity of bringing together four institutions of higher learning pulling their resources together for a common good. More so, we are going to partner with renowned University of Manchester and Christie Hospital, one of the top training hospitals in health in the world in this global undertaking,” Prof. Akama noted.
This project will be funded by the UK Export Finance (UKEF) at an estimated cost of Sh30 billion and will comprise of a hospital campus with a comprehensive research centre, a 1,000-bed capacity hospital, laboratories, theatres and schools of medicine, pharmacy, dentistry, biomedical sciences and nursing.
CEHET is expected to be a regional hub for healthcare research, innovation and training of advanced-level medical personnel in Kenya and Eastern Africa countries and partner universities will collaborate to promote specialist health care and research in Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), HIV and AIDS, malaria, sickle cell disease, mental health and substance abuse, community health infectious diseases and respiratory diseases.
Last month, Vice-Chancellors Prof. Akama (Kisii), Prof. Isaac Kibwage (Egerton), Prof. Julius Nyabundi (Maseno) and Professor Solomon Shibairo (Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology) signed an MOU to oversee the establishment of the centre at Kisii University.
The MOU was signed in Kisumu County in the presence of Health Principal Secretary, Susan Mochache, Governors Wycliffe Oparanya, James Ongwae, Anyang’ Nyong’o and Cornell Rasanga from Kakamega, Kisii, Kisumu and Siaya counties respectively.
The project is part of the Kenya UK Health Alliance (KUKHA) which brings together Kenya and UK institutions such as universities, teaching hospitals and research institutions to collaborate on health matters.
The representative of Health PS Susan Mochache, and Dr. Jarred Nyakiba, said the KUKHA will uplift the standards of healthcare in the country, especially in clinical services, research, workforce and education.
“This comes at a very opportune time as Kenya has embarked on the national scale-up of UHC launched by the President last month and through that, all Kenyans can access packages of quality and affordable essential services when they need them,” added Dr. Nyakiba.
He urged Kenyans to register as members of the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) saying that one of the benefits of UHC under the oncology package is the Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan cover and Sh40, 000 will be paid for cancer patients as long as they are registered under the cover.
Dr. Nyakiba said there was a need to build and strengthen all six pillars of health systems adding that the launch of the Centre of Excellence is one of them and will enhance the quality of training and health care to be given by the workforce in achieving UHC.
He noted that adequate distribution of the healthcare workforce in the country was important, saying they need to be competent, knowledgeable and skilled to provide quality services to the public.
By Mercy Osongo and Augustine Mosioma