COVID-19 in Kenya: Indices on County Healthcare Capacity and Populations at Risk

The virus, COVID-19 is burdening an already strained healthcare system in Kenya. Under the 2010 Constitution and after the 2013 election, healthcare is one of the 14 functions that has been devolved to the newly formed 47 counties. County governments are now at the frontline of delivering services to address the COVID-19 pandemic. However, healthcare capacity in the 47 counties is varied. Historical inequalities across regions, and in the health sector, date back to colonial times and despite seven years of devolution (2013-2020), convergence towards a uniform healthcare system across counties is far from a reality. This report offers some empirical evidence on which of the 47 counties in Kenya are best and least-well situated to deal with the Covid-19 virus. The purpose here is to assist policy makers in determining where limited resources, financial, human, and medical, can best be employed and where additional support may be provided by the national government to augment local resources. The report presents data on two critical dimensions of countries specific circumstances: their healthcare capacity to respond to the virus and the risk to their population of contracting the disease. The data are presented in the form of two indices, specifically a healthcare capacity index and a population risk index. As the objective is cross-county comparisons, these are both relative measures. Another measure on county population size is also provided since the absolute size of a county’s population may be a factor in how resources need to be deployed.