County issues Universal Health Coverage Cards to residents

County evaluates initiative's progress [Photo courtesy]

Residents who registered for the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) programme can now collect their cards at local public health facilities.

The cards, which will be used to access services in public facilities, will make it easier for medics to identify UHC beneficiaries and their dependents.

Speaking at a UHC stakeholders' forum, Deputy Governor Caroline Karugu said the programme was facing some challenges.

“As a pilot project there have been challenges and also great strides in implementation of the programme. We have to commend volunteers and partners who worked to ensure Nyeri had 84 per cent registration,” she said.

Increase in the number of people seeking outpatient services and the decrease in those paying for health insurance were among the issues raised.

Referral system

Following the roll out of the UHC programme, public hospitals have registered an increase of 55 per cent in the number of people seeking outpatient services. The number of people paying their National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) contributions dropped by 30 per cent in January.

However March witnessed an 18 per cent increase in contributions, indicating patients were now seeking NHIF support.

Unfortunately, most of the patients did not adhere to the referral system, which is key in the success of UHC.

“There is a perception among residents that all their health needs can only be met by the county referral hospital which means they continue to shun health centres and dispensaries which are also fully equipped,” Dr Karugu said.

She added that it will require civic education to educate the public on the importance of seeking medical attention from their primary health facility.