Kennedy Odiambo Oreunjo is the County Director of Health in Siaya County, Kenya. He is a public health specialist with a master’s degree in Public Health and Community Health & Development and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Public Health. He is passionate about engaging communities in finding affordable solutions to their problems. He likes traveling, learning new skills and engaging in professional development opportunities.
Kennedy is the Project Champion for Medic’s partnership and project deployment in Siaya County, where we have been deploying our mobile app since 2017. With Kennedy’s support, we have scaled up to reach the entire county, with 2,500 community health workers equipped with mobile phones to better provide care to those in the county.
We recently had the chance to get to know Kennedy better in an interview with our team!
What is your role with the Siaya County Ministry of Health?
My core purpose is being responsible for determining the overall vision and objectives for healthcare in Siaya County’s Government. In my role, I am held accountable for delivering on public health objectives; from planning to implementation of health agendas to reporting annually on the outcomes and deciding on the direction for future work. This is, of course, made possible by fostering partnerships and collaborations, along with health management and system strengthening.
Location of Siaya County, Kenya, and breakdown of six sub-counties supported by Medic app.
What does your typical day look like?
Ideally, my day starts early in the morning with a visit to the Siaya County Referral Hospital. The hospital is about one and a half kilometers away, I purposefully walk so that I interact with patients and health care workers before going to the office to start the day’s administrative duties. My management is by availability – I always make sure that I am available and that at the same time, my staff is available so that we can offer quality service to the people of Siaya.
I like going to the field often for spot checks and to provide supportive supervision. Later on, I will take a jog or walk before retiring after a day’s heavy work. Most at times I get to work early in the morning and leave to return home as late as 9 p.m.
What are the biggest health challenges in Siaya County?
Our biggest health challenge is the burden of diseases such as Malaria, HIV, and TB. We also have many road traffic accidents as a result of the rising number of motorbike riders and the fact that we have a trans-National highway passing through the County to Busia which increases traffic flow.
How has partnering with Medic and using mHealth affected your community health programming?
The partnership with Medic has been great and fulfilling in the sense that we have a mutual understanding. This kind of partnership is key because we identified our areas of concern by looking at our core health indicators that needed close monitoring and tracking with the aim of improving and reversing the trends. Adopting the human-centered design approach, Medic team developed a mobile application that supported the County with near real-time monitoring of the indicators of interest to the County, and improvement in coordination of care.
Monitoring of the system by both the Medic teams and the Ministry of Health staff has been ongoing. We have quarterly review meetings with the teams to monitor progress and this has enabled us to improve on reporting and also measure the outputs and the process since inception. Medic has made it easy for the top management to interpret and use data for decision making through the generation of dashboards and installation of internet services.
This partnership has grown through the introduction of inter-partnership collaborations with other organizations like PATH, CDC through the National Diseases Surveillance Office on Community Based Surveillance among others on the improvement of reporting along with community health programs.
What is the most common feedback from the health workers trained Medic tools?
Community Health Volunteers have the feeling that they have been elevated from the use of manual reporting to digital reporting systems and this has motivated them thus improving their outputs. Equally, the health care workers feel motivated and ideally, eHealth and mHealth is the way to go for this Country so that we do not delay interventions.
Kennedy pictured on a panel presentation at the 2018 Skoll World Forum (far right).
In 2018, you joined Medic teammates at the Skoll World Forum. Can you tell us a bit about that experience? Were there any moments that were particularly memorable?
London was cold, though manageable! The 2018 Skoll World Forum was amazing and was an eye-opener for me as I learned that the efforts that we put in as a County are most appreciated. I saw that we touch the lives of people within the communities that we serve and this encouraged me to work even harder in achieving my goals. I also learned that County Governments need to continue investing in the support for community health services and systems. These systems are key to the realization of the agenda for the County, and we should always strive to use local solutions for our challenges.