Enactment of four bills major step forward for UHC


In a country where access to quality healthcare has often been a challenge, the implementation of Universal Health Care (UHC) is a game-changer with far-reaching impacts to the welfare of citizens and is key to revolutionising our nation's health landscape. After all, the success of a nation is tied to the well-being of its masses.

Healthcare is one of the five pillars of Kenya Kwanza’s Bottom-up Economic Transformation Agenda and is aimed at promoting access to quality and affordable healthcare. In my one year at the helm of the Ministry of Health, it has increasingly become evident that UHC is not merely a policy as it encapsulates the essence of equitable, accessible and high-quality healthcare for every citizen.

Our delivery of UHC is grounded on expansion of primary healthcare services through deliberate efforts to bring essential medical services to all Kenyans which the government has prioritised through the tagline ‘Afya Nyumbani.’ With the support of the 100,000 Community Health Promoters (CHPs), we will tear down barriers that have blocked millions of Kenyans from accessing timely health care in government health facilities as we prioritise the transformation of health services from curative to preventive and promotive approaches.

Our first leap into realising UHC has been through legislation; the enactment of the four Health Bills into law – the Social Health Insurance Fund (SHIF), Primary Healthcare Fund and Emergency, Chronic and Critical Illnesses Fund – which will be financed by the government through taxes and support from health partners.

The entire continuum of essential health services is covered under UHC – from health promotion to prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, and palliative care throughout the course of life. With this approach, we look forward to a time when healthcare will no longer be a luxury reserved for a few privileged individuals but a fundamental right that is accessible to all as stipulated in the Constitution. This will liberate individuals to seek medical care promptly, unburdened by the spectre of crippling costs.

In Kenya today, confinement of patients in hospitals due to unsettled health bills is a big problem which paints a grim picture of the anguish Kenyans go through while seeking access to quality health services. This is particularly true for patients suffering from terminal illnesses where families are forced to sell their property to clear bills. However, this will be a thing of the past with the enactment of the SHIF.

Kenyans will now, for the first time, enjoy limitless insurance for the entire duration of treating terminal illnesses through the Emergency, Chronic and Critical Illness Fund. At the same time, patients will access services such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy and dialysis in public facilities once they exhaust their limits in private hospitals in one of three kitties under UHC. This is aligned with the central principle of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that seeks to ensure that no one is left behind.

By assenting into law, the four Health bills, President William Ruto has demonstrated his goodwill in ensuring that all Kenyans receive health services of the highest standard possible

Ms Nakhumicha is the Cabinet Secretary for Health