IMF Policies Harm Kenyan Health System

Kisumu Kenya hospital - © Photo by Mrs. Gardyloo
Christ the King Dispensary - Kibera slum - Nairobi

Wednesday, October 2009

According to a report conducted by the Centre for Economic Governance and AIDS in Africa in collaboration with Kenya AIDS NGOs Consortium (KANCO) and Results Education Fund, released last October, "policies set by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have restricted government spending on health services, denying sick Kenyans access to drugs and quality healthcare".


The report argues that "expenditure ceilings on public health spending imposed in the ‘90s as part of the conditions for disbursing financial support to Kenya have held back progress in the health sector by restricting the recruitment of medical professionals." Also, the policies have left Kenya "virtually dependent" on donor funds for HIV/AIDS programs, the newspaper writes.

Kenya has more than 10,000 trained but unemployed nurses who cannot get public sector jobs because of the IMF policies. In an earlier response to non-profit groups, IMF said the wage bill condition was being phased out and would henceforth be used only in countries with unstable macroeconomic conditions such as those emerging out of conflict. According to the the non-profit groups, however, the IMF still maintains these conditions only not as directly as they used to" .

This report comes at a time when health experts are demanding the employment of 24,000 additional nurses to stem a biting shortage of staff in public health facilities.


"Billow Kerrow, a former member of the Kenyan parliament who launched the report, said "Kenya needs to decide whether to blindly follow IMF prescriptions and endanger her people’s health, or reject them and pursue policies that enhance access to health" . "Policies such as cost sharing in health facilities are not applicable in a country like ours, in which people die from simple controllable diseases such as cholera," he said.


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