Kenya seeks Thailand's help to implement universal health coverage

Kenyatta National Hospital casualty wing. [File, Standard]
Kenya has entered into a deal with Thailand to assist in formulating the best service delivery package for country’s Universal Health Coverage(UHC) plan.

A meeting that took place on the side lines of the just concluded World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva, Switzerland Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki held talks with Thailand’s counterpart.

Ms Kariuki had earlier noted that the sole purpose of her delegation made up of Members of Parliament and representatives from the Council of Governors to the 71st session of WHA was to seek ways of implementing Kenya’s UHC plan.

“The Minister for Health accepted to send a team to support the local team to design the UHC benefit package as well as the review of our existing institutional architecture to better deliver on the promise of UHC,” read a stamen from the ministry.

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It added: “The Minister(Thailand) also offered internship opportunities and scholarships for the health experts from Kenya to learn first-hand from the Thai experience on UHC implementation capabilities.”

Thailand is one of the countries globally known for its elaborate and well-crafted UHC plan.

The South Asian country introduced a Universal Health Scheme(UHS) in 2001. As documented by The Guardian, this health package in ten years had roped in at least 48 million Thai nationals, which was 98 per cent of the population.

The package includes in and out patient, emergency care to all nationals. Contrary to Thailand, Kenya is still struggling with subscriptions to the National Health Insurance Fund(NHIF) which now has 6.8 million members translating to slightly over 22 million Kenyans, less than half of the population.

Through the UHC plan, which is one of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big Four agenda, NHIF seeks to double the current principal subscriptions to 13 million by 2022.

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During her meeting with the Director General of World Health Organisation(WHO) Dr Tedros Adhanom, Ms Kariuki said the two discussed additional ways in which the organisation can offer technical and in-kind support to Kenya going forward.

“The Director General made commitment to supporting Kenya in the journey towards UHC and pledged to provide both technical and financial support towards the design of Kenya’s UHC benefit package and in the implementation of an effective community health strategy,” said the Ministry’s statement.

Apart from the Thai minister, CS Kariuki also met up with Cuban health minister, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Burundi, Guinea Bissau and United Kingdom.

Kenya already has a pact with Cuba to import 100 medical specialists who are expected in the country this week.

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