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State set to double health expenditure to Sh161.8 billion

 Treasury CS Njuguna Ndung'u cuts a ribbon during the release of the Economic Survey 2024 at KICC, Nairobi. [Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

The government is set to almost double its expenditure on health services in the upcoming fiscal year.

Speaking during the release of the Economic Survey 2024, Monday, at KICC, Nairobi, the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), projected a staggering 83.6 per cent increase in health expenditure, from Sh88.1 billion in 2022/23 to Sh161.8 billion in 2023/24.

Total county government expenditure on health services was Sh95.5 billion in 2022/23 and is expected to increase by 30.2 per cent to Sh124.3 billion in 2023/24.

The survey highlights a substantial increase in recurrent and development expenditure on health services. Recurrent expenditure, covering operational costs, is expected to go up from Sh43 billion to Sh89.8 billion.

Meanwhile, development expenditure on infrastructure and capital projects is expected to increase by 59.7 per cent surge, to Sh72 billion in 2023/24.

However, the report paints a grim picture on births.

Despite the increased funding, the number of registered births dipped slightly from 1.22 million in 2022 to 1.19 million in 2023, although 99 per cent of these births occurred in health facilities. Additionally, the number of registered deaths fell from 213,210 in 2022 to 205,731 in 2023.

However, birth registration coverage dropped from 80.6 per cent in 2022 to 76.6 per cent in 2023, while death registration coverage fell from 47.6 per cent to 45.1 per cent over the same period.

According to a KNBS survey, the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) witnessed growth in its membership base. The number of principal cardholders increased from 15.5 million in 2022 to 16.3 million in 2023, with the informal sector accounting for 69.2 per cent of the total membership.

Overall, NHIF membership grew from 30 million in 2021/22 to 31.6 million in 2022/23, a testament to the government's efforts to expand healthcare access.

The survey further recorded a decrease in the total number of health facilities from 16,540 in 2022 to 15,070 in 2023, with Level 4 hospitals increasing to 1,020, and accounting for 6.8 per cent of the total facilities.

The report showed that injectable contraceptives remain popular while the number of women undergoing sterilisation (BTL) increased by 15.1 per cent to 4,727.

The data further reveals a decline in the number of adolescents (10-19 years), presenting with pregnancy at their first antenatal care (ANC) visit, dropping by 1.9 per cent to 253,314 in 2023. This trend was observed across the 10-14 and 15-19 age groups, with counties like Nairobi, Bungoma, Kakamega, and Narok recording the highest proportions of adolescent pregnancies.

This comes amid a cry by the Ministry of Health to the National Treasury to stay its earlier budgetary estimates.

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