UHC Conference: Governors call for focus on prevention of lifestyle diseases

Governors have asked the national government to radically reform the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) to offer health insurance as opposed to hospital-based insurance.

Speaking at the second Universal Health Care (UHC) Conference in Nyeri County yesterday, Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana said the Government should improve health infrastructure so that UHC could be rolled out across the country without a hitch.

“The National Hospital Insurance Fund must me made a reality for all Kenyans and this means ensuring that more people are registered under the national insurer,” he said.

Prof Kibwana added that the plan for UHC to be fully funded by the Government must be sustainable and consistent. Four counties - Makueni, Kisumu, Nyeri and Busia - have been identified to pilot UHC.

“Resources are not infinite, therefore the best way to make UHC consistent is to make use of NHIF and ensure Kenyans are enrolled in the medical cover,” he explained.

Kisumu Governor Anyang' Nyong'o called for a transformational approach to healthcare and said there was need to mainstream the health needs of disabled people.

Village councils

“Kisumu has a community-based approach, with village councils and health workers who are paid a stipend to support efforts to ensure healthcare solutions are available to the community,” Prof Nyong'o noted.

So far Kisumu has registered more than 41,000 residents under NHIF; 13,000 of these are children.

“We have prepared a disability Bill in the Kisumu county assembly that specifies the needs of PWDs (people living with disability) in the health sector and also ways they can have their needs catered for across sectors.”

Nyeri Deputy Governor Caroline Karugu said the county allocated approximately 40 per cent of the total county budget to health.

“There is inadequate funding for capital projects, with 75 per cent of the funds going to cover personal emoluments. Insurance uptake is notably low in the county at 32 per cent, and out-of-pocket expenditure stands high at 43 per cent,” she said.

Planning Principal Secretary Julius Muia said the Government would reconfigure NHIF.

“We shall review the laws governing private insurance companies to encourage investment by private health insurers and bring the cost of cover within reach of every Kenyan,” he said.

On tackling non-communicable diseases, Kibwana called for a shift from doctors who are focused on curative medicine to nutritionists and community health workers who can influence the lifestyle and culture of communities.

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Universal Health Care ConferenceMakueni Governor Kivutha Kibwanauniversal healthcareuniversal health coverage