Kenya edged closer to the roll out of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) after the national and county governments resolved the most contentious issues.
The UHC will see all Kenyans, especially the most vulnerable, access quality health services.
Yesterday, all the 47 counties agreed to back the national government plan to use the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) as the primary cover for the comprehensive health plan.
They also agreed to collapse all the county health aid programmes and consolidate them under the UHC. To actualise the plan, NHIF cover will be mandatory for all middle class.
“If you have a car and a motorcycle you should have an NHIF cover before you drive,” said Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe.
He said NHIF will also standardise the rates for public and private hospitals.
President Uhuru Kenyatta was expected to launch the programme in Mombasa today given that UHC is one of Jubilee administration’s Big Four Agenda plans.
Most county bosses yesterday called for a policy change in the NHIF to guarantee swift reimbursements or payment of the claim from public hospitals.
All the counties and the Ministry of Health are expected to sign a new 3-year Inter-governmental Partnership Agreement (IPA) ahead of the UHC roll out.
So far, Health Principal Secretary Susan Mochache said 875,000 health workers have been recruited by the county and national governments ahead of the roll out.
“We have also recruited 2,772 interns out of the 4,000 we targeted. We have connected 326 level four and three hospital with electricity and 93 with water,” she said.
The PS said the government has also connected 20 Level Four and Level Five hospitals with fibre cables given that all UHC beneficiaries will be identified through biometrics and not cards.
Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu lauded the programme saying it was long overdue.
“We now have a political goodwill to implement this plan. I pushed for this in 2004 when I was the Minister for Health. We need to solve the teething problems and do this for our people,” Ngilu said.
“This will be like being your brother’s or sister’s keeper. You contribute so that the other can benefit...”
The governors also want the government to disburse Sh50 billion to support the programme every year and to hire more workforce and purchase equipment for hospitals.
Earlier, the governors were against the proposal to use NHIF as the primary cover for the UHC saying the format will create a class system to the disadvantage of the poor.
“NHIF will create class system where the poor will be required to seek services at public hospitals and the rich at the private facilities,” said Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua.
He said for the UHC to succeed, the government should allocate at least Sh1 billion to each county for the next five to ten years.
Nyandarua Governor Francis Kimemia said UHC pilot project in four counties flopped because there was no collaboration between the governors and the national government.