February 2018 was the beginning of a new era for the people of Bungoma County. For the first-time ever, the County Health Management Team (CHMT), the county assembly health committee and civil society organisations (CSOs) came together in the same space to discuss and deliberate on the need for increased domestic resource allocation for health by the county government. As CSOs start to engage in the 2019/2020 budget process, there is more we can learn from this experience in Bungoma. Below are our top takeaways.
Health budget advocacy needs to be a collaborative effort with the county government
CSOs and the County Health Management Team have always had constructive approaches to engage and work towards developing a health budget for the county government. However, this relationship had previously overlooked the importance of legislative members of the county assembly health committee, who play an important role in scrutinising and prioritising budgets.
Since 2017, E4A-Mama Ye has been supporting CSOs under the Bungoma Health NGOs Network (Hennet) to continue partnering with the County Health Management Team. This has included fostering their relationship and engagement in advocating for health priorities to be included in the budget to all key decision-makers. Hon. George Makari, a political leader and chair of the County Assembly Health Committee spoke passionately as he was giving his speech:
“There is need for a sustained funding for the department of health to improve service delivery and quality of care for the people of Bungoma especially women, children, adolescents and youth”.
Evidence Informed Advocacy
In February 2018, E4A-Mama Ye facilitated opportunities for CSOs to share evidence on the RMNCAH situation in the county during the budget formulation stage of the budget cycle. During key meetings, CSOs and the CHMT shared key RMNCAH evidence to political leaders, enabling a discussion on health indicators performance and the gaps in health care financing. During these engagements, the County Assembly Health Committee and County Health Management team signed a joint commitment for better investments in health in future financial years.
“[…] consistent engagement is a key driver for enhancing collaboration and cooperation between the County Department of Health and the County Assembly Health Committee, resolving the need to convene meetings on a quarterly basis to dialogue on the quarterly progress reports” [Joint Commitment by CHMT & County Assembly Health Committee dated 16th February, 2018]
An increased health budget for Bungoma!
The result of these commitments was an increase in the Bungoma County health budget: increasing from 2.8billion Kenya shillings in 2017/2018 to 3.03billion Kenya shillings in 2018/2019. E4A Mama Ye national advocacy coordinator, George Ogola expressed his optimism for an increased health budget in Bungoma county.
“The Bungoma county budget process FY 2018/19 presented an all-inclusive approach where all key stakeholders actively participated and it indeed yielded good results."
George added that the joint communique between the legislative assembly, county executive and the CSOs, is a good gesture and a show of commitment for better investments in health in the subsequent financial years.
In 2019, E4A Mama Ye will continue to strengthen the engagement among CSOs, CHMT and the county assembly health committee during all stages of the budget cycle. By doing this, we aspire to realise an increase in the domestic health budget, making health services accessible and affordable to women, adolescents and children.