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Nguvu Collective Change leaders delivering petitions to the office of the Cabinet Secretary for Health. PHOTO/NGUVU

By Arnold Ageta

Cabinet Secretary of Health Nakumicha Wafula has underscored the Ministry’s unwavering dedication to patient safety and active patient participation.

She declared her office’s unwavering commitment to championing a healthcare system that not only safeguards patients but also empowers them to take an active role in their healthcare journey.

CS Nakumicha’s announcement is a crucial element of her comprehensive reform agenda as the Cabinet Secretary, aiming to ensure that every Kenyan has access to high-quality healthcare. Notably, CS Nakumicha played a pivotal role as co-chair of this year’s World Global Patient Safety Day held in Geneva, co-chairing the event virtually from Kenya.

“Our commitment to patient rights and safety goes beyond mere words. We have taken concrete actions to prioritize patient engagement in policy development, governance structures, safety protocols, and their individual care,” CS Nakumicha emphasized during the meeting with the Nguvu Collective officials.

Nguvu Collective is an international organization that supports emerging leaders from marginalized communities to create deep social impact by providing access to a collective, and digital and on ground advocacy skills.

This meeting held great significance as the theme for this year’s World Patient Safety Day was “Engaging patients for patient safety.”

Nguvu Collective officials drawn from various counties in Kenya recently spearheaded a successful national online advocacy campaign, garnering support from 6,355 individuals.

“Our campaigns represent the collective voice of Kenyan citizens, appealing to the government to establish robust policies and systems for patient care. We applaud CS Nakumicha for providing a platform for patients to advocate for our rights,” said Deborah Monari, Nguvu Change official.

The discussions during the meeting revolved around enhancing healthcare services, protecting patient rights, promoting mental health awareness and support, and prioritizing disability inclusion in Kenya’s healthcare system.

CS Nakumicha’s office received a range of representations from the Nguvu Collective officials addressing various critical issues. Deborah Monari, Nguvu Changeleader from Nairobi County emphasized the need to investigate, regulate, and monitor patient complaint departments in hospitals to ensure effective resolution of patient concerns. ‘‘We ask the government to establish patient complaints offices in public hospitals to address issues arising from service delivery,’’ she said.

Josephine Mwende, who is living with cerebral palsy, passionately highlighted the challenges faced in accessing maternal care. She called for a toll-free hotline to report discrimination against individuals with disabilities and the creation of specialized consultation rooms for women with disabilities, aiming to make healthcare services universally accessible.

‘‘There is a great importance of collaborating with the Council of Governors to initiate awareness programs targeting all healthcare staff cadres,’’ she added.

She says the initiative aims to create a more inclusive and sensitive healthcare environment.

Nguvu Collective officials from Kisumu and Nairobi counties urged the Ministry of Health to establish more mental health service departments in hospitals, ensure access, play a pivotal role in ending the stigma around mental health issues, and decriminalize suicide, recognizing these as vital issues that transcend mere legal concerns.

The office of CS Nakumicha connected the Nguvu Change leaders with relevant departments and individuals for further discussions, assuring them of close monitoring of the progress on these campaigns. This commitment marks a significant step towards a more patient-centered and inclusive healthcare system in Kenya.

Patient safety is globally recognized annually on September 17 during the World Global Patient Safety where global awareness of the need for active engagement of patients and their families and care givers are encouraged to improve patient safety.

The day was established in 2019 by the 72nd World Health Assembly in 2019thorugh the adoption of global action on patient safety.

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