Robert Rapando, 39

Health System Strengthening Specialist

Amref Health

Robert may have a background in political science, but his success came from health financing and advocacy.

He has been pushing for initiatives to cushion people through insurance, pooling funds for drugs and medical equipment, and strengthening the budgeting and planning system to complement what the government does at the county level.

He is a health system strengthening specialist with Amref Health Africa in Kenya, currently working in Turkana County under Imarisha Jamii, a USaid-funded project covering child, maternal health, vulnerable children, and those living with HIV/Aids.

“My role is to strengthen health systems by working with counties to ensure they can budget for health care. Recently, we have been able to work on a policy on hospitals improvement fund allowing health facilities to raise money and retain it,” he says.

“The reason why most health officials complain is that they say they can raise Sh1 million every month but then it goes to the county treasury where it can be misallocated for let’s say travel,” he says. The project has been focused in Turkana but he says they are working with the Council of Governors to have it replicated across all counties.

Before he joined Amref, he worked with Options Consultancy Services, a UK-based organisation with a focus on maternal and child health.

“No woman should die during child birth or no should child dies before the age of five. Among the things that are causing deaths is loss of blood or lack of essentials such as gloves that may cause sepsis for newborn children due to infection,” he says.

With focus now on health financing, he says without medical insurance, Kenyans are forced to “sell goats, bicycles, motorbikes to access healthcare.”

Besides the progress he has made in healthcare, it is a sacco that he helped start four years ago under World Vision that sets him apart.

Through Yes Youth Can project, a project initiated by Michael Ranneberger, former US ambassador to Kenya to empower youth economically, Robert helped organise youth from Kisii to form a youth-led Sacco. Robert is also doing a mentorship with the Good Kenya organisation targeting youths from Kibera after their four years in secondary education. -Elizabeth Kivuva