Introduction: A well performing public healthcare system is necessary for Kenya to continue progress towards universal health coverage (UHC). Identifying actionable measures to improve the performance of the public healthcare system is critical to progress towards UHC. We aimed to measure and compare the performance of Kenya’s public healthcare system at the county level and explore remediable drivers of poor healthcare system performance.
Methods: Using administrative data from fiscal year 2014/2015 through fiscal year 2017/2018, we measured the technical efficiency of 47 county-level public healthcare systems in Kenya using stochastic frontier analysis. We then regressed the technical efficiency measure against a set of explanatory variables to examine drivers of efficiency. Additionally, in selected counties, we analysed surveys and focus group discussions to qualitatively understand factors affecting performance.
Results: The median technical efficiency of county public healthcare systems was 84% in fiscal year 2017/2018 (with an IQR of 79% to 90%). Across the four fiscal years of data, 27 out of the 47 Kenyan counties had a declining technical efficiency score. Our regression analysis indicated that impediments to the flow of funding-measured by the budget absorption rate which is the ratio between funds spent and funds released-were significantly related to poor healthcare system performance. Our analysis of interviews and surveys yielded a similar conclusion as nearly 50% of respondents indicated issues stemming from poor budget absorption were significant drivers of poor healthcare system performance.
Conclusion: Public healthcare systems at the county-level in Kenya general performed well; however, addressing delays in the flow of funding is a concrete step to improve healthcare system performance. As Kenya-and other countries-provides additional funding to meet their UHC goals, establishing a strong and robust public financial management system is critical to ensure that the benefits of UHC are realised.
Moses MW, Korir J, Zeng W, Musiega A, Oyasi J, Lu R, Chuma J, Di Giorgio L.