Public Health & Tropical Medicine

Public Health Landscape in Kenya


As of 2015, Kenya had a population of about 46 million of which rural population constituted 74.4%. Though Kenya witnessed tremendous advance in health sector, it still continues to face the burden of tropical diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis and infection with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) which results in Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). Tuberculosis is one of the top five causes of death in Kenya and HIV/ AIDS has been recently declared as a national disaster by Kenyan Government. Apart from these, more than one in seven children in Kenya die before they turn 5 years old from malnutrition and other preventable diseases such as pneumonia, diarrhea and malaria. This could be largely attributed to lack of routine immunization, proper hygiene, sanitation and infrastructure.

Public health sector in Kenya provides healthcare services which includes preventive, curative and rehabilitative services to a majority of its population. Routine immunization to newborn and children and control of mosquito breeding which would in turn reduce the transmission of tropical diseases such as malaria, are examples of preventive healthcare services. Treatment provided by hospitals and healthcare units constitute the curative and rehabilitative services. Also, the private sector in Kenya acts extremely dynamic by providing healthcare to even the poorest citizens. It is noteworthy that almost half of Kenya’s poor population utilizes the services provided by the private sector. Mobile health has been extensively used in Kenya to deliver quality healthcare services to low-income communities.

The major sources of funding for healthcare in Kenya are the government, private consumers and donors. Government allocations come up to 30% of the annual expenditure in healthcare. This serves about 80% of the population that utilizes services from the public sector. Donors supplement the government allocations to fight the high burden diseases such as HIV/ AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, and diarrhea. Private consumers contribute largely and account 35.9% of the total expenses.

Kenya healthcare system is organized in such a manner that directs complicated cases to a higher level. There are several healthcare units such as government run dispensaries that serve as the lowest point of contact with the public, private clinics most of which are run by nurses, privately owned nursing homes, health centers which are government run medium sized units, district and sub-district hospitals that provide comprehensive healthcare services, private hospitals and national hospitals which act as point of contact for the district hospitals.

The ministry of health is headquartered at Nairobi and consists of two ministers – minister for medical services and minister for public health. Each minister has two assistant ministers and a permanent secretary. The decentralized healthcare system has categorized the healthcare services into 4 levels – level 1 – community health services; level 2 – primary care services; level 3 – county referral services and level 4 – national referral services; to facilitate easy and governance.

The Kenya health policy 2014-2030 provides key objectives for governance systems at the county levels that aims at delivering efficient, cost effective and equitable health service to the population; decentralization of health service delivery to community level; initiation of stakeholder participation and accountability in service delivery; cost effective monitoring, evaluation, reviewing and reporting systems, effective administration and management.


James Lind Institute offers various online healthcare training programs that people interested in healthcare can opt for. One of our flagship programs, the Master of Science in Health Management has already attracted many applicants from Kenya and the whole jli-click-here-to-know-moreAfrican region. To know more visit the following link:

Master of Science in Health Management (Online)


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