Emphasizing the pivotal role “health for all” plays in global prosperity, President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya declared that his country would lead the way by achieving universal health coverage (UHC) by 2022, eight years ahead of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) deadline.
Key elements of the government’s strategy to achieve UHC include building resilient and responsive primary health systems and investing in preventative and promotive community healthcare. It is against this backdrop that Johnson & Johnson was recently recognized by the Kenyan Ministry of Health for its “impactful collaboration” notably in the areas of community health and specialized frontline health worker training.
In a letter of appreciation to Johnson & Johnson on behalf of the Government of Kenya, Sicily Karuki, Cabinet Secretary for Health writes that “the collaboration has contributed to the strengthening of our health system as we prepare to scale up the implementation of UHC nationally.”
Earlier this year, Johnson & Johnson collaborated with the Kenyan Ministry of Health to co-create the Community Health Units for Universal Health Coverage (CHU4UHC) Platform to integrate community health workers (CHWs) formally into the health system and to deliver preventative and promotive healthcare. The CHU4UHC platform created strategies based on the new WHO guidelines to formally integrate CHWs into health systems and build sustainable community health systems. The platform focuses on developing policies for training and formalizing CHWs, coordinating funding sources, and implementing real-time digital reporting systems to track data for impact.
“Rather than go in with a ready-made program, we followed the Ministry’s lead to identify the current challenges and develop the solutions,” says Anthony Gitau, Director, Johnson & Johnson Global Community Impact for Sub-Saharan Africa. “As a result we were successful in co-creating a platform that brought all the stakeholders together to formalize a sector that was previously fragmented.”
The CHU4UHC platform is one example of how the Johnson & Johnson Center for Health Worker Innovation (CHWI) is working to accelerate a successful collective approach for creating a thriving workforce to address the looming health worker shortage facing global health today.
According to the World Health Organization, global health priorities including UHC cannot be achieved without bringing 18 million more frontline health workers—mostly nurses, midwives, and CHWs providing primary, community-based care—into the health workforce. The Center brings the unique capabilities of Johnson & Johnson, as the world’s largest diversified healthcare company, to help address the health worker coverage gap, improve the quality of care, and strengthen primary, community-based health systems.
A similar platform for nursing and midwifery is currently underway in Kenya. Leveraging learnings from the US nursing campaign and successful programs such as NurseConnect in South Africa, Johnson & Johnson is working with the Ministry of Health to establish policies for nursing education and service, as well as to develop programs to improve the image of the profession and to provide nurses with opportunities for continuous professional development and connection.
Additionally, in September, Johnson & Johnson joined forces with the Ministry of Health and local partners to launch the Oncology Nursing Training Initiative to strengthen oncology health systems in Kenya which are facing a heath workforce shortage, amid a significant rise in cancer deaths. Only 36 nurses in the country are currently trained in oncology, while the need is at least 500. The oncology initiative leverages the cross-sector competencies of Johnson & Johnson companies and local partners to help strengthen the capacity of health systems to improve quality management of cancer throughout the cancer pathway—prevention, diagnosis, treatment, care and support.
“We are honored to be recognized by the Government of Kenya for our partnership,” says Iddah Asin, Director Government Affairs & Policy East Africa, Johnson & Johnson, who was instrumental in facilitating the collaboration with the Ministry of Health. “Our work in Kenya unites many efforts across Johnson & Johnson and reflects a longstanding commitment to supporting and championing the people on the front lines of care as a key strategy toward our purpose of profoundly changing the trajectory of health for humanity.”