Critical shortages of essential drugs and medical equipment are harming the ability of the health system to deliver quality health services to patients.

On average, about half (54 per cent) of essential drugs and minimum basic equipment (51 per cent) were available in health facilities, according to The Kenya Health Service Delivery Indicator Survey (SDI) 2018. These are drugs on the Kenya Essential Medicines List.

While over half (58 percent) of drugs for treating pneumonia and severe dehydration due to diarrhoea in children, and tuberculosis of the lungs and type 2 diabetes in adults were available, only five percent of facilities had all the drugs needed to manage the conditions.

Share of essential drugs and basic equipment available dropped last year compared to 2012. The availability of drugs dropped 13 percentage points while the proportion of health facilities that meet basic equipment requirements declined by about a quarter during the period. Rural facilities had a higher share of priority drugs (55 per cent) compared to urban ones (52 per cent). Public facilities had a marginally higher proportion of essential drugs.

While over half (58 percent) of drugs for treating pneumonia and severe dehydration due to diarrhoea in children, and tuberculosis of the lungs and type 2 diabetes in adults were available, only five percent of facilities had all the drugs needed to manage the conditions. The four were the tracer conditions in the study that aims to determine the quality of services in basic healthcare.

Availability of priority drugs for mothers (a third) is quite poor while less than two-thirds of the necessary vaccines are available.

Among the various levels, hospitals had a higher proportion of essential drugs available (more than three-quarters) while dispensaries had the least (about half). This is alarming given the fact that most of the population accesses care at a public primary health facility.

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