Kenya is facing a severe shortage of public health officers and technicians at all levels of service delivery.
The public health officers and technical council chairman Simon Kimani speaking at Mount Kenya University said the county has 4,000 registered public health officers against a population of approximately 45 million citizens.
“This means that one officer is responsible for health and safety of 11,250 citizens. This is an enormous task and hence the challenges the country in experiencing in monitoring public health delivery services,” said Mr Kimani.
During the event, Mount Kenya University was cleared to offer public health studies courses further increasing the scope of programmes that the institution teaches and researches on.
A new Environmental health skills laboratory at the university was also opened.
The university will offer Bachelor of Science in environmental health programme for a period of four years.
Mr Kimani said records at the council an additional 4,000 public health officers and technicians are urgently required to address the emerging environmental health challenges across the Country.
“This constitutes about 40 Public health officers and 46 public health technicians per county to address the current disease burden arising from preventable causes,” said the chairman.
He said the council has mandate and duty to offer technical and professional support towards full programme accreditation of all public and environmental health programmes in all institutions of higher learning in Kenya.
This accreditation for the B.Sc. Environmental Health programme in Mount Kenya University is indeed a testimony that partnership and meaningful collaboration yield positive results for the growth of the Public Health profession in our Country,” added the chairman.
He said the accreditation of the programme only marks an initial step in the improvement of quality training for Public Health Officers and not an end in the enhancement and adherence to training standards.
He said the council in partnership with the universities and colleges will continue to implement minimum training standards to bridge the current shortage in health workforce particularly at the community level.
“Our country will be able to achieve Universal Health Coverage by supporting and empowering critical community health units through promoting public health preventive services thereby cutting the diseases burden at the primary health care level.
"This will translate to more resource savings in curative care services for the country, a healthy Kenyan population, more man hours used in building the Kenyan economy and therefore creation of more employment opportunities for our youth,” said the chairman.