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Ministry Of Health Launches policies that will gather dust in their shelves

Just the other day, The Ministry of health launched 14 documents meant to improve maternal and new-born health services within the Country. The launch was attended by quite a number of organizations, young people, activists and even had representation from the county governments.

To the shock of many, many of these launched policies were seen, heard for the first time which raises quite a number of questions. Was there adequate public participation in all these processes? Were there representation from the counties, health care workers, CSOs when ideation on some of these work started?

Public participation is a vital process in all public policy processes and the need to ensure engagement of all groups of people within the processes is paramount to the actualization of the interventions, strategies that are proposed. The comprehension of the public participation remains key to ensure that views are incorporated within the processes of policy formulation.

Within the 14 documents launched by the division of reproductive and maternal health unit, they include policy, guidelines, training guides that share best practices, how to sort of models. Most of the policies and the strategies intended for the health care professionals aim to equip them with knowledge, skills and positive attitude throughout their work and profession. The documents target healthcare professionals, policy makers, health academia and researchers as well as health implementers across all levels, but was there adequate, fair and comprehensive engagement?

Some of the policy documents were developed as a result of increase in issues. For instance the intimate partner violence training manual was developed following a rise in IPV cases during COVID-19 epidemic period and aims to empower health care providers with the necessary knowledge and skills to ensure an appropriate health sector response to intimate partner violence.

Policies, frameworks, guide implementation and coordination of work anywhere and in any sector.

Policies are like laws, they guide on how to better achieve set objectives and goals of an intended problem or work. Health is one of the sectors that has seen the development of many policies, frameworks and strategies owing to the many social and health issues affecting people in all their diversities. Good holistic policies achieve positive reproductive health outcomes.

Considering that quite a large constituent of people and groups were not engaged, are not well versed with the comprehension of emerging issues, strategies, how are health care workers, CSOs supposed to embrace ownership? Support implementation and dissemination of the policies? How many of the launched policies were actively designed with public participation, considering the Ministry’s move to launch the Reproductive health policy without adequate consultations.

Against a background of increasing threat of increasing burden of issues, history has shown that the government struggles with resourcing, domestication and participation of the public, interested parties which is one of the vital processes for any public policy process. Effective consultation increases the ownership and actual implementation, considering these policies have policy strategies, interventions on how to offer solutions to some of the high burden issues.

Implementation of these beautiful policies remains only but a dream, most of the times they only gather dust as the people who are supposed to operationalize them were not engaged, were not consulted, but just informed, also actualization of the policies remains a dream when the people they are intended for are being barred to access services and information just because of lack of wide dissemination and sensitization.

Meaningfully engaging all groups of people before, during and after the processes increases the ownership of policies and initiatives, and improves transparency and accountability.

Isaac Kahara 

Nairobi, Kenya