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If UHC funds are lost you'll regret it for the rest of your lives - Uhuru

HEALTH & SCIENCEBy JAEL MBOGA | Sat,Oct 31 2020 13:49:24 EAT
By JAEL MBOGA | Sat,Oct 31 2020 13:49:24 EAT

 President Uhuru Kenyatta arrives in Mombasa County for the Health Sector Intergovernmental Forum on Universal Health Coverage.

President Uhuru Kenyatta on Saturday ordered the scaling of National Hospital Insurance Fund reforms to boost Universal Health Coverage.

Speaking in Mombasa, the president directed the Health ministry and the Attorney General to fast-track the reforms into law.

"Do not delay the reforms with unnecessary debate," Uhuru told lawmakers at the launch of the UHC biometric registration.

In February last year, the NHIF was feared to have lost more than Sh10 billion in false medical claims, investigations showed.

Sources said the figure had been flagged as fraudulent and was part of about Sh50 billion paid to NHIF by Treasury as capitation premiums for medical cover for civil servants, Kenya Police Service, National Youth Service and Kenya Prisons Service since 2013.  

A stern Uhuru on Saturday warned that if those charged with the responsibility of handling the funds are not careful, "We will go to extreme lengths to ensure you regret it for the rest of your lives."

Part of the reforms will also set up a mandatory UHC scheme for all, regardless of social status. It will include the adoption of essential packages to cover maternity, radiology, major and minor surgeries, mental health, substance abuse and rehabilitation, cancer treatment and emergency services for Sh6,000 per household per annum.

The new plan will ensure health insurance to one million vulnerable households who cannot afford the Sh6,000. These will be identified through the biometric system to curb fraud and abuse.

The scheme to be managed by the NHIF has been rolled out in its pilot phase in Kisumu, Machakos, Isiolo and Nyeri.

Last year, the number of patients attending public hospitals in Kisumu since UHC was rolled out in September 2018 increased.

Kisumu Governor Anyang Nyong'o said at the time, 843,863 people had been registered into the UHC cover from a targeted 1.2 million. "But certain challenges remain," the governor said.

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Nyong'o said UHC remains the only means through which quality and affordable healthcare can be realised. UHC is the responsibility of national government, which has increased investment of domestic resources in health.

UHC is part of Uhuru's Big Four Agenda.

Also present in Mombasa was Health CS Mutahi Kagwe, who said part of the NHIF reforms will include having county representatives added on the board.

Kagwe said today there are 19 hospitals being built in Nairobi; two Level II and Level III hospitals in every densely populated area. Construction is ongoing on another five hospitals that are almost being completed; they include Mama Lucy and Korogocho hospitals.

Uhuru lauded county governments, which he said played a major role in managing the spread of coronavirus across the country by liaising with the national government's Ministry of Health.

Uhuru said access to emergency medical treatment should be available to all, adding "without improving health the quest for prosperity would be hollow".

Admitting that access to quality healthcare is still a challenge to many, the president said it is important that these essential needs are made accessible at affordable prices.

Statistics show that in 2018 more than one million Kenyans were impoverished due to high health expenses for themselves and their loved ones.

In the UHC pilot phase, there has been an establishment of 208 additional community health units with 7,700 health workers who attendd to more than two million clients, a majority of whom were served in their homes.

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