Kenya has today launched a community health initiative supported by the African Union geared to boosting primary health care at the grassroots, targeting under-served populations. 

The pivotal programme, under the auspices of the African Union (AU) Member States, is known as Resilient and Empowered African Community Health (REACH) and is geared towards increasing Community Health Workers (CHWs) to over 2 million in the continent by  2029.

Under the first phase of the initiative, over 25,000 CHWs newly recruited in Kenya will be trained on community health and on the use of Community Health Promotion (CHP) kits and Electronic Community Health Information System (ECHIS) to strengthen monitoring and evaluation. 

The Government of Kenya through the Ministry of Health has enlisted over 107,831 CHWs of whom 25,000 will be trained in the first phase, according to the REACH initiative partners. 

Launched in October 2022, the REACH initiative is the embodiment of Africa’s resilience and health security, poised to enhance the community health workforce’s ability to deliver evidence-based health interventions. Kenya is among the 12 countries identified for initial support in the first phase of the initiative, signifying an important move towards integrating, institutionalizing, and sustaining CHWs within its health system.

“The REACH Initiative is our beacon of hope and aligns seamlessly with the Bottom-Up Economic Transformation Agenda (BETA) and Afya Nyumbani, reinforcing our commitment to achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC),” stated Honourable Nakhumicha S. Wafula, Cabinet Secretary for Health, Ministry of Health Kenya.

The Health CS further said the government is determined to deepen health provision in the villages and communities by strengthening the human capital and skills in partnership with health sector stakeholders. 

Highlighting the critical importance of community health workers, H.E. Dr. Jean Kasea, Director General of the Africa CDC, stated:

“Community health workers are instrumental in realizing health coverage and health security on our continent. The REACH programme is a testament to our heads of state’s vision, and it stands as a significant step towards the development of a resilient health system.”

Dr. Ahmed Idris, Secretary General of the Kenya Red Cross Society, commented on the synergy with the initiative:

“The REACH Initiative mirrors the Kenya Red Cross Society’s dedication to community health service programming. Our commitment is to provide robust support to the Ministry of Health through direct technical assistance and advocacy, aligning with the national strategic plan for community health services.”

Mohamed Babiker, IFRC Head of Delegation, Nairobi Country Cluster for Somalia, and Kenya, shared his insights on the initiative’s impact:

“The REACH Initiative, a joint effort between the IFRC, Africa CDC, the Kenya Red Cross, Prudence Foundation and the Government of Kenya through the Ministry of Health, aims to enhance Kenya’s healthcare system by empowering communities, expanding the Community Health Worker workforce, and achieving Universal Health Coverage.”

In Kenya, REACH is being implemented through a partnership with the Government of Kenya.

through the Ministry of Health, Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) through Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS). The initiative has received its initial seed funding from Prudence Foundation, the community investment arm of Prudential plc in Asia and Africa, for the initial start-up of REACH activities in Kenya.

Nick Holder, Deputy CEO of Prudential Africa, and a member of the Board of Trustees of Prudence Foundation, conveyed their commitment:

“The Prudence Foundation is dedicated to building resilience within communities against health risks. We are eager to collaborate with IFRC, Africa CDC, and the Ministry of Health to foster improved health outcomes in Kenya by scaling up a strengthened, people-centric, and integrated community health system and workforce.”

REACH will contribute to the development of country-driven support plans, aligning with Kenya’s health initiatives and ensuring accountability at all levels. 

Kenyans will benefit from enhanced health service delivery in the coming years, with the initiative playing a critical role in improving access to primary healthcare services, particularly in remote and underserved areas. The REACH initiative will be integral to Kenya’s journey towards achieving universal health coverage.

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