Raila calls for compulsory health insurance for the unemployed

HEALTH & SCIENCE |

Kenya needs a robust primary public healthcare system starting from the family level to public healthcare, Raila Odinga has said.

The ODM leader said there is a need to invest in a compulsory health insurance scheme that takes care of both the employed and unemployed, including farmers.

Raila said there is a need to ensure the health insurance scheme covers the extremely poor in rural and urban areas. 

He added that Covid-19 has found Kenya off-guard with inadequate preventive health services, while the curative services are equally wanting.

“The best is reserved for the elite who can pay for it,” Raila said.

"There are only so many hospitals and so many beds even for those with money."

Raila went on to add that the Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the failures and challenges facing the health system.

“It has lifted the lid on gaps that have denied our people access to healthcare … if we are to learn any lesson from this pandemic, let it be that going forward we have to do things differently.”

He said the most urgent need facing the country today is how to ensure universal access to quality affordable and reliable healthcare, both preventive and curative.

“We should set timelines within which we ensure substantial increase in the number of medical institutions, staff, medical insurance scheme, clinics, and hospital beds.”

Raila’s comment comes as 1,259 people yesterday tested positive for coronavirus from an 8,081 sample size.

The number was the highest posted last week, with Kenya’s positivity rate now at 15.6 per cent.

As Kenya continues to grapple with Covid-19 cases, most hospitals do not have oxygen plants. 

According to an audit report by the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentist Council (KMPDC), inadequate oxygen supply and shortage of staff in isolation units are the major challenges hospitals are facing. 

The report, Technical Report on Oxygen and Ventilator Findings, reveal that Kenya has a total of 305 licensed isolation units.

“Data collected reveal that 87 per cent of the facilities have oxygen supply, the most common supply method being the cylinder, which stands at 54 per cent,” reads the report signed by KMPDC CEO Daniel Yumbya.

For example, Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) has an oxygen processing plant but it is faulty.

Oxygen supply hitches at the hospital have been witnessed for over 20 years, but no action has been taken on establishing a new plant.

“Lack of enough oxygen plant at the hospital is a major problem. This is due to the breakdown of one of the plants serving the patients.

"It was being supported by a foreign non-governmental organisation (NGO), but when they stopped servicing it, maintenance cost became a challenge and it broke down,” noted the report.

Further, there are two units at the hospital with six ICU beds, two dialysis beds and 60 regular beds at its Mbagathi unit.

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