Universal health care plan rolls out next month

At least 3.2 million Kenyans in four counties will be the first beneficiaries of a new health package being developed by the Government.

The health benefit package, under the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) programme is expected to be ready by early next month, and will probably contain a review of the current programmes being accessed by Kenyans. This new package is in line with a Gazette notice dated June 8 by Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki that unveiled a 17-member panel mandated to come up with the new package in 60 days.

The panel is chaired Prof Gilbert Kokwaro, who said all Kenyans should have access to the new package before 2022.

The 3.2 million beneficiaries will come from Kisumu, Isiolo, Nyeri and Machakos counties.

Kariuki said the decision to pilot the programme in these counties was evidence-based on disease burden in the areas.

For Kisumu, it is because it leads in the high number of infectious diseases like HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, while Machakos hospital visits are mostly because of accidents and injuries. Nyeri is leading in cases of non-communicable diseases, especially diabetes, and Isiolo is meant to see how the package will work among the nomadic population, said the CS.

“Piloting the package in a controlled population ensures less chances of failure and we can minimise the risks when the programme will later be scaled up to the whole population,” she said.

Kariuki said Kenya is bench-marking with countries such as Ethiopia and Rwanda where UHC has worked.

“UHC has to work. We have seen increased political commitment. We do not desire for Kenyans to be forced to sell assets in order to pay their medical bills,” said the CS.  

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