Noven Owiti and Robert Ochoro
The Lake Basin Region economic bloc is set to hold a two-day health exhibition and investment conference to look into issues affecting healthcare. The event which is scheduled for March 29 and 31 will be convened in Kisii County and aims at, among other objectives, showcasing opportunities that will foster increased investment in the health sector within the bloc, showcasing scalable ICT enable health innovations and initiatives hence promote an integrated regional and national health information system.
Others are provision of a platform for sharing diverse and scalable health solutions under each of the six pillars of a functional health system and high level advocacy and awareness on emerging challenges bedeviling the health sector that require concerted efforts from all stakeholders.
The theme of the event, christened the inauguration International Lake Region Investment conference, will be “strengthening health care systems through partnership for socio-economic prosperity” and will bring participants from the 13 counties forming the bloc and other partners.
Speaking during the launch in Kisumu Friday, Kisumu governor Jack Ranguma, who is also the bloc chairman, said the event will be an indication of the success region had experienced since the inception of the bloc two years ago.
He said the economic bloc focuses on seven pillars of development, others being agriculture, education, infrastructure, ICT, financial services and tourism. “The event will be a milestone and game changer for our counties as we seek to promote universal healthcare,” he said.
Raunguma, who is the chairman of health committee in the Council of Governors, said as a bloc they intend to boost provision of health services such that Kenyans will not be going abroad to seek for special treatment.
Kisii governor James Ongwae, who is the chair of health pillar in the bloc, said the conference will help them come up with solutions to some of the problems facing the health docket.
Ongwae cited limited health equipment, high malaria prevalence and infant mortality rates, poor sanitation and inadequate human resources as major challenges dogging health services in the counties.
“We expect to foster new partnerships that will help us come up with modalities of addressing the challenges facing healthcare,” said Ongwae. However, he observed that heath services had improved under the county governments, saying in Kisii County for instance health facilities have been face-lifted and additional 170 doctors hired.
The bloc, which was established and launched in 2015, consists of Kakamega, Busia, Migori, Kisumu, Homa bay, Siaya, Vihiga, Nyamira, Kisii, Kericho, Bungoma, Trans Nzoia and Bomet counties.