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How Makueni plans to sustain subsidised healthcare programme

By Graham Kajilwa | Published Thu, April 5th 2018 at 00:00, Updated April 4th 2018 at 21:56 GMT +3
Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana. His Government has managed to keep budget allocation to Health above 30 per cent. [File, Standard]

Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana has said the number of households enrolled for the county's subsidised healthcare programme has nearly tripled in the last one year.

Prof Kibwana (right) said the programme had 72,000 households, up from 25,000 in 2016.

Under the programme, each household pays Sh500 per year to access treatment in any county health facility at no additional charge.

All Makueni residents and non-residents who have lived in the area for six months are eligible for the programme.

Kibwana said the medical insurance scheme should be maintained by the governor who succeeds him in 2022. This is Kibwana's second and final term in office.

He was speaking during the Universal Health Conference (UHC) held in the county yesterday that President Uhuru Kenyatta is expected to officially close today.

"This programme has been so entrenched in people who have seen its benefit. To say that someone may come and scrap it, I think, may even lead to a government being dissolved," said the governor.

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Mortuary services

The scheme does not not pay for mortuary services (for bodies that have stayed more than 10 days) or surgical implants.

But unlike the State-run National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) that is activated three months after registration and for which subscribers pay Sh500 monthly, the Makueni cover takes effect immediately.

"The biggest challenge we have is that we still have people who wait to be sick to register in the programme," said Kibwana

So far, the county has managed to keep its budget allocation to health above 30 per cent.

In the last financial year, 2016-2017, Sh2.4 billion of the Sh7.2 billion budget went to health.

The county has also increased the number of health workers from 977 in 2013-2014 to 1,462 in 2016-2017.

Similarly, hospital admissions increased under the same period, from 298,760 to 515,321.

"There is a lot of demand for health services and this means those who were not able to access now have the ability," he said.

Kibwana said the county government was planning to put in place laws to protect the programme.

"We have a new Health Act that we hope to domesticate this programme," said Kibwana.

Makueni is regarded as a pioneer in the provision of universal healthcare since introduction of the subsidy.

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