In Summary
  • The training of healthcare workers in the country has not been sufficient to meet the medical needs of the country - from caregiving, diagnosis to specialised care.
  • KMPPDU secretary-general Ouma Oluga said that since the devolution of health, more than 2,000 doctors left public hospitals due to the poor management of health.

Cancer and blood specialist Chite Asirwa sees about 50 patients on any given day at the cancer clinic in Ampath and the Moi Training and Referral Hospital.

Apart from the overwhelming number, most of Dr Asirwa’s patients are at advanced stages of their cancer and he risks his own burnout trying to attend to all of them.

Dr Asirwa is just one of the 2,089 specialist doctors in Kenya according to the Kenya Health Workforce Report of 2015.

In fact, in his speciality — oncology and radiology — there are only nine doctors registered to be working in a public hospital on a part time or full-time basis.

He told Nation: “If they had been diagnosed early, they would be treated, but now it is just palliative care for most of them”.

The majority of specialised medics are from obstetrics and gynaecology (387), general surgery (338) while diabetology is the least.


Meanwhile, the percentage of deaths caused by communicable diseases such as malaria reduced from 82 to 72 in 2012, while cancers and other non-communicable diseases rose from 11 to 14 in the same period.

Dr Asirwa’s work overload communicates a deficiency in the entire spectrum of human resource for health in Kenya.

There are not enough healthcare workers to see patients even for primary medical care before they are sick enough to need the specialised skills of Dr Asirwa.

As at 2015, there were 5,660 retained medical doctors, 31,896 active nurses and midwives and 10,562 active clinical officers.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) index that measures how many health workers would be needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and take care of non-communicable diseases as well, the country needs 45 physicians, nurses, and midwives per 10,000 population.

Kenya has 13.8 doctors, nurses and midwives per 10,000 population, and this includes clinical officers.


The acute shortage of human resources in Sub-Saharan Africa has been blamed for the region’s poor health indicators such as high maternal and child mortality rates.

The training of healthcare workers in the country has not been sufficient to meet the medical needs of the country - from caregiving, diagnosis to specialised care.

As of 2015, the country had 148 health training institutions accredited by the health regulatory agencies to train in all the six disciplines — nursing, clinical medicine, medicine, dentistry, medical laboratory sciences, and pharmacy — of health and biomedical sciences.

Of these, 102 are nurse-training institutions and 10 for medical doctors, of which two also train dentists while 36 train clinical officers.

There are also 32 pharmacist and pharmaceutical training institutions well as 42 medical laboratory technicians and technologists’ trainings institutions.

Out of these schools come an average of 466 doctors every year, an increase from 287 in 2006 as the number of schools offering medical training moved from two to 10.


In a previous unpublished interview, the dean of University of Nairobi 's School of Medicine, Prof Fredrick Were, said that even with the increase of medical schools, the country is far from training enough healthcare workers.

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