Kitui Government unveiled a subsidised healthcare programme targeting 270,000 households.
Every household will pay Sh1,000 per year per to access medical services from the county hospitals under the programme, dubbed Kitui County Health Insurance Cover (K-CHIC).
Kitui is walking in the footsteps of Makueni County, which won accolades for pioneering the universal healthcare (UHC). Under the Makueni programme, each household pays Sh500 per year to access treatment in any county health facility at no additional charge.
The launch of K-CHIC at Katulani Sub County Hospital in Kitui Central was graced by among others Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka, Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki, governors Kivutha Kibwana (Makueni) and Anyang’ Nyong’ (Kisumu), Kitui County Commissioner Samuel Kimiti, MPs Paul Nzengu (Mwingi North) and Edith Nyenze (Kitui West).
Governor Charity Ngilu said the launch of K-CHIC will ease the disease burden. “Let us support K-CHIC, not because it is a Ngilu project, but because it is the right thing to do,” she said.
Ngilu said according to a 2015 World Bank report on health spending, an average Kitui household makes about Sh37,000 per annum and spends about Sh15,000 on health. This, she said, impoverishies the people.
Ngilu said to ensure success of the new programme, her administration has operationalised 262 health facilities and hired 569 health workers, among them 35 doctors.
“We have engaged Kenya Medical Supplies Agency and Mission for Essential Drugs and Supplies to supply us with medicine and non-pharmaceutical products. We have acquired state of the art diagnostic equipment such as lab equipment, X-ray, ultra sound, CT scan and dialysis machines and consumables to support our referral hospitals of Kitui and Mwingi,” she said.
The governor said the insurance scheme fulfills the second pillar of her election manifesto in which she pledged to provide quality healthcare. The programme is also in line with the UHC component of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big Four agenda.
Ngilu said her government would continue to support the medical sector. The insurance cover, she added, would save patients of huge bills that sometimes lead to their detention in public and private hospitals.
President Uhuru Kenyatta congratulated Ngilu for being a trend setter in the journey to universal healthcare.
In a speech read by Health CS Sicily Kariuki, Uhuru said it was worrying that 1.5 million Kenyans were being pushed to the poverty by healthcare expenditures.
“Given that health is a devolved function, county governments play a key role in healthcare provision and such a move deserves a pat on the back,” said the President.
He said his government had abolished all charges in dispensaries and health centres so that all Kenyans can access basic health services.
Kariuki said the Government would support counties that have created universal healthcare schemes to ensure their successful implementation.
“From where I sit, and borrowing from the Makueni experience, I assure you of my total support to ensure success of this programme,” she said.
Kalonzo lashed out at a section of Kitui leaders who he accused of creating unnecessary conflict to slow Ngilu’s efforts to develop the county.
“I am utterly disappointed by any Wiper leader from this county standing in the way of people’s development in the name of party affiliations,” he said.
Prof Kibwana asked Ngilu to consider partnering with Makueni so that residents of Kitui can access free medicare from Makueni hospitals and vice versa.
“This is a historic milestone that many people will come to remember many years even after Ngilu has moved out of office,” he said.
Prof Nyong’o said quality and affordable healthcare is a basic right every Kenyan should enjoy.