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Taita Taveta county to put more locals on NHIF plan

 Taita Taveta Governor Granton Samboja. [Standard]

Taita Taveta county government has launched a programme to increase the uptake of the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) in the region.

Health Executive Daniel Makoko and Chief Officer Christine Mwakera said the county has set aside Sh3 million for a registration drive.

The programme will target 15,000 households, with an estimated 75,000 residents expected to sign up to access affordable medical services.

The officials, who were speaking in Mwatate when they officially kicked off the exercise yesterday, said that community health volunteers would spearhead the programme.

The disclosed that beneficiaries will be paying a monthly NHIF premium of Sh500.

“Instead of paying for medical services from their pockets, the NHIF programme will enable them to easily access affordable medical services in public health institutions,” said Dr Mwakera.

She, however, noted there was need for more sensitisation forums to ensure the programme was a success.

Mr Makoko said the standoff between ward reps and the governor over the 2019/2020 budget estimates had impacted negatively on the provision of quality health care in the devolved unit.

“The health department will use the NHIF money to buy drugs to minimise referral of patients to Mombasa and other neighbouriung counties for specialised treatment. We need support from relevant stakeholders as the programme is targeting vulnerable groups in the grassroots."

The launch comes at a time when the standoff over budget estimates continues to impact negatively on funding for the education, health and road departments.

"Other areas badly affected by the stalemate include water, youth, women, people living with disabilities and economic empowerment programmes," said Makoko.

The official said that provision of equipment in health facilities had been crippled due to the budget dispute.

The bone of contention is Sh833 million the MCAs allocated to the Ward Development Fund, which governor Granton Samboja has refused to approve.

The Executive also issued a circular directing the management of four sub-county hospitals, including Voi Referral Hospital, to use any revenue they generate to fund operations.

Makoko said the health facilities are facing challenges buying foodstuffs, and drugs and non-pharmaceutical items, as well as fuelling ambulances.

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