Brief: Regulation of Healthcare Technology in Kenya (Installment I: Tech Regulation in Kenya Series)

This brief is the first part of a 3-part series examining the role of regulation in technology advancement in healthcare, education, and finance. It focuses on technology regulation in the healthcare sector in Kenya and puts forward recommendations for the improvement of regulation in this sector. Read the full introduction to the broader series here, and follow Botho’s website and social media for installments of the series in September and October 2019.

While Kenya’s Big 4 Agenda and Vision 2030 both highlight the improvement of healthcare coverage and quality as a priority area for national development, there must be a standardization of policies and procedures between the county and national levels. The Big 4 agenda aims to increase access to private insurance options, as well as substantially subsidize the cost of care. Vision 2030 aims to provide equitable, affordable and quality healthcare for a high  quality of life for all citizens. From the digitization of patient records to the improvement of diagnostics, technology can help accelerate progress towards achieving these goals. The transformative potential of digital health, however, depends on a conducive environment for innovation. Technology regulation is a complex process necessitating the participation of diverse stakeholders

Despite the fact that Africa makes up 16% of the global population and carries 23% of the global disease burden, the region accounts for a mere 1% of total global health expenditures and contributes to its $66 billion annual health financing gap. Given these stark figures, disruptive opportunities for healthcare technology across Africa have enormous transformative potential. In Rwanda, for example, American medical care company Zipline now delivers blood and medical supplies to rural doctors by drone. Following its success in Rwanda, the company recently expanded to Ghana, where 30 drones are currently in operation and distributing vaccines, blood and life-saving medication across the country. As more countries adopt an open attitude towards innovations in healthcare delivery, other nations may soon be able to tap into Zipline’s transformative approach. Kenya, for example, also recently permitted drone use for public health subject to compliance with the Kenya Drone Laws and approval from the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority.  

The first section provides an overview of Kenya’s healthcare system, including the roles of the national and county governments in healthcare delivery, as well as the relevant regulatory and policymaking bodies. The second part highlights healthcare regulation under  Kenya’s Vision 2030 along with the goal of Universal Health Coverage. This section further analyzes the role of the regulation of technology in healthcare. The third section explores challenges in regulating technology in Kenyan healthcare, the brief concludes with a final section putting forward recommendations for improvement of technology regulation in the healthcare sector.