National Conference Inspires Health Leaders in Kenya

National Conference Inspires Health Leaders in Kenya

Maria Francisco, USAID, with guest speakers from Ethiopia, Dr. N. Kedir Bilal, and Ghana, Dr. Elias Sory. {Photo credit: MSH.}Photo credit: MSH.

Today, in Nairobi, Kenya, we’re celebrating the opening of the First National Conference on Health Leadership, Management and Governance, a joint undertaking of the Ministry of Medical Services and the Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation with support from Management Sciences for Health through the USAID-funded Leadership, Management and Sustainability Project in Kenya (LMS/Kenya).

By coincidence, it also marks the second anniversary of my own arrival in Kenya to assume responsibilities as the communications specialist on the LMS/Kenya project. In these past two years, I've seen the “buzz” about leadership and management in the health sector grow into a virtual shout. This conference is the culmination of a steady and persistent push to strengthen health leadership and management capacity in Kenya which started long before I came here.

The energy around the subject, which has charged the opening-day activities, also comes from the streets outside the conference hall. As health leaders and managers are meeting inside the Intercontinental Hotel in the central business district, Kenya’s top political candidates are nearby presenting their official nomination papers for the national elections scheduled to take place on March 4 and the streets outside have been jammed with the candidates’ political supporters.

Mugo Kibati, Vision 2030 Secretariat

The newly-elected government will hold the profound responsibility of furthering the implementation of Kenya’s 2010 Constitution which states, significantly, that health is a human right. Meanwhile, the responsibility for making that conviction a practical reality lies with many of the participants at this conference. Taking into consideration the post-election mandate to transition central and provincial authority to newly-established county governments, including many of the country’s health services, is the task these participants face. The conference theme appropriately captures this urgent challenge: “Towards our devolved health system: leading and managing change for better health.”

In the midst of the bustle and excitement of the day—more than 250 health leaders and managers are attending this event—I’ve been struck by the determined commitment and encouragement of the speakers and the serious attention and concern of the audience. The morning’s opening speeches by Ministry officials and co-sponsors, and particularly by keynote speaker, Mugo Kibati, the Secretariat of Kenya’s Vision 2030, inspired all of us to seize the moment and use this conference to identify key recommendations that will guide the sector through the transition that lies ahead. Kenya’s new constitution adopts the tenet that health is a human right that should be available to all its citizens. It also calls for the empowerment of its people. In Swahili, we say Afya yetu or “our health, our responsibility.”

Kenya Health LMG Conference participants celebrate.

While the feeling of enthusiasm is high and the "can-do" mood pervasive, it is still only the first day of this four-day conference. As we look forward to a busy week, participants must also look beyond this week and beyond the walls of the conference hall to years ahead and the streets outside. The key to a successful conference will be not only the strength of the recommendations we identify and articulate, but whether they are relevant and actionable to health leaders and managers around the country.

For me, it’s especially exciting and rewarding to expand the reach of this critical discussion via the Health Systems Management in Kenya website on which the conference proceedings are being live-streamed courtesy of Kenya’s telecommunications giant, Safaricom. The conference has been graced by guest speakers from Ethiopia, Ghana and Tanzania as well as participants from Afghanistan who have come to share and hear stories that other countries have faced under similar circumstances. By live-streaming this conference, we in Kenya now have the opportunity to share the Kenyan experience with the world.

I invite you to join us live on the website, or follow Health Systems Management in Kenya on Facebook and on Twitter with hashtag .

Watch videos from the (F. K. Musyimi, Maria Francisco, Mary Ngari, and Mugo Kibati):

Kate Steger, MA, MPH, is the communications specialist on the LMS/Kenya project, based in Nairobi.



Eddah Kanini
The Conference on health leadership management and governance (LMG) opened the eyes of many health care providers and health leaders from the various regions in Kenya. Every participant went back eager to improve health outcomes and the health system through integrating LMG concepts in various activities. It was exciting to see the regional meetings full of energy as they deliberated on how to apply LMG concepts in support supervision, work planning, resource mobilization, team effectiveness and in community strategy among others. The conference came at a very good time, helping our health system to undergo the crucial transition that will take place due to devolution. Congratulations to all USAID-LMS Kenya staffs under the guidance of Karen, I am proud to be part of the team. You have truly helped in developing Managers who Lead.
Kate Steger
Dear Dr. Sugi-san: I know I speak on behalf of the whole LMS/Kenya team when I say what a pleasure it has been to work with you and Team JICA! Your commitment and enthusiasm were inspiring and we look forward to working with you more as we jointly support LMG in the Kenyan health sector during the devolution process and beyond. Asante!
Dear Kenya team, I am following the conference as much as the time difference and streaming glitches allow. It is very exciting to see how far Kenya has come in the 26 years I have followed management (first) and leadership (added later) development evolved from externally provided to internally motivated. Your comment from 'buzz to shout' is indeed right on - I remember when this talk was barely a murmur. What a great example of country-led and country-owned....
Sylvia Vriesendorp
I remember the talk about M&L (only 20 years ago) was more like a soft murmur, mostly uttered by expats. I am truly amazed as I listen in on the conference from my office in the US. Keep it up!
Judy Khanyola
As part of the LMS/Kenya team, it has really been exciting to be part of this event and see the overwhelming enthusiasm and support for health leadership, management and governance. As a health worker and Kenyan, I am really happy to see the great strides being made in this area, all for benefit of the Kenyan people!
Tomohiko Sugishita
Dear Karen and LMS/Kenya project team, we, JICA, congratulate a wonderful and successful 1st National LMG conference in Nairobi. I assume that all the 250 participants were inspired by international guests and interactive sessions. We will continue to support LMG training and management assistance for County Health Management Teams facing at upcoming devolved health systems in Kenya. We shall keep up moving forward together. All the best.
it was quite inspiring to see the Conference come to a reality. The leadership of the health sector should not remain the same again. Mollent

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