What makes Makaueni’s Sh500-a year universal Health Care Programme tick
SEE ALSO :Tosha: No more painful search for waterThose aged 65 years and above are exempt from this fee and treated free of charge. People who have lived in the county for at least six months also qualify for the programme. In addition, the county government caters for mortuary fees up to 10 days in case one dies at the county facilities. We found Ms Matilu at Mbooni Sub-County Hospital where she had been admitted for four weeks. Some of her toes had been amputated but she looked every bit jovial. "Luckily for me, I am a senior citizen and the county government is taking care of my medical bills. For the period I have been here, I have not paid anything but I'm getting the best treatment and all the drugs I need," says Matilu from her hospital bed. "This programme has alleviated the suffering of Makueni people most of whom would be detained in hospitals because of inability to settle hospital bills," she says. Just outside the hospital, we bump into Janet Mwanza who had brought her 15-year-old daughter for outpatient treatment. Ms Mwanza registered with Makueni Care in December 2016. In a hospital where a daily bed fee ranges from Sh500 to Sh600, Mutunga would be staring at an over Sh25, 000 medical bill for that brief period.
SEE ALSO :Chaos in Makueni assembly"This programme was informed by high poverty levels in the county… we thought it would be a timely move to cushion people from unwarranted suffering and inability to access quality healthcare. The surging registration is a clear indication that a lot of people were suffering at home," says Dr Musyoki. The officer noted that the county government had made deliberate steps to expand and operationalise health facilities in terms of infrastructure, staffing and stocking of drugs and other consumables. He says the county hospitals are fully stocked with drugs and have enough, well-motivated health personnel. "With the onset of the free healthcare programme, we expected an influx of patients and therefore made deliberate investments so as not to shock the system. Our endeavour is to offer quality, timely and convenient health services," says Dr Musyoki. Towards this end, the county government allocated Sh200 million in 2016/2017 financial year, Sh250 million for 2017/2018 and Sh300 million for 2018/2019 financial years. Among critical services offered free upon registering with Makueni Care include laboratory tests, X rays and surgical operations. Dr Musyoki says in two years’ time, others such as ICU, dialysis and operations that need implants will also be offered free under the scheme. The county government has also put up a modern trauma centre at Makindu Level IV Hospital and a modern mother and child wing at Makueni County Referral Hospital. In addition, the county government recently acquired eight high voltage generators worth Sh31 million which have been installed at 11 newly-established theatres in sub-county county hospitals. "In the long run, we want to ensure not only highest standard of healthcare for our people but also become a county of medical tourism where others come to learn the best healthcare provision practices from us," Dr Musyoki says. The county residents are however advised to register with other health providers such as NHIF in case of referrals.
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