Working Paper
Debt Relief and Health Care in Kenya

Kenya’s external debt has continued to swell over the years, and despite the country meeting its debt commitment through regular servicing, this has been done at the expense of key social services such as health, education, water and sanitation. Although good health is a pre-requisite to socioeconomic development, public budget allocation to the health sector has been dwindling over the years in per capita terms. Furthermore, development of health infrastructure has not kept pace with the population growth rate. In particular, many health facilities lack the necessary equipment and medical supplies. Medical personnel, trained by the government at public expense, are leaving the public service in large numbers for better opportunities in the private sector and in other countries. The HIV/AIDS pandemic and other emerging diseases are taking toll on the country’s population, as resources available to the health sector are not adequate for effective treatment and prevention of these diseases or for the mitigation of their consequences. The Kenyan health system needs additional resources for recovery. The paper explores, in a general way, how additional money from debt relief might be used to improve the health conditions of the population. The paper proposes that possible debt relief proceeds be invested in general preventive health care, human development, health equipment, medical supplies, health infrastructure and in programmes for preventing and treating HIV/AIDS-related diseases.