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Budget: Blow to health sector after allocation falls below proposed figure

When the 2023/2024 budget proposal was read by the National Treasury CS Njuguna Ndung'u, it was hard to miss that the health sector budget is Sh5.6 billion lower than the 2022/23 budget.

"I propose to the assembly to effect the budget allocation of Sh141.2 billion to the health sector to support various programmes aimed at supporting universal health coverage," stated CS Njuguna.

In the 2022/23 budget estimate proposal, Ukur Yatani gave the health sector its biggest allocation ever.

The then National Treasury, CS allocated Sh146.8 billion to the healthcare sector out of which Sh62.3 billion covered the Universal Health Coverage(UHC), unlike the Sh18.4 billion proposed by CS Ndung'u.

This is despite Universal Health Care being one of the leading agendas of the Kenya Kwanza government which promised to enhance the health sector and promote access to affordable and quality universal healthcare coverage.

The 2022/23 budget allocated Sh1.3 billion for the construction of a cancer centre at Kisii Level 5 hospital, an allocation that was also proposed in 2023/24 but with an increment from Sh600 Million to Sh1.9 billion.

This has prompted questions about why the allocation has been repeated and how the previously allocated amount was spent.

The case is the same for the construction of the Kenyatta National Hospital Burns and Paediatric Centre. In the 2022/23 budget, Sh1.1 billion was allocated while in the 2023/24 budget, it got Sh2.4 billion. With an increment of Sh1.3 billion, this raises questions about the integrity of the budget allocation process.

Indeed, the cancer burden is rising globally, exerting significant strain on populations and health systems at all income levels.

In Kenya, cancer is the third leading cause of death after infectious and cardiovascular diseases. Kenya has allocated Sh2.55 billion to fight cancer. But will the allocation enhance early diagnosis and treatment?

If the allocation will be seriously implemented, then it is bound to reduce the number of trips most Kenyans make to receive treatment abroad. Collectively, Kenyans spend about Sh10 billion every year to seek treatment abroad by Kenyans.

Despite the Health CS Susan Nakhumicha dismissing the reports of a new wave of Covid-19 in the country, a huge chunk of money has been proposed -- Sh3.7 billion for the Kenya Covid-19 response project.

"From our surveillance, we do not have an upsurge of Covid that we can report to the country and tell them to take corrective action," she said.

She said that the flu-like symptoms witnessed in the recent past were due to the cold season and not the coronavirus.

On the positive side, Sh1.7 billion has been allocated to provide medical cover for the elderly and severely disabled persons.

The budget has been proposed as the Finance bill is set to go through a third reading scheduled for next week. The appropriations bill is set to be published over the weekend.

The opposition Members of Parliament, Azimio la Umoja party Coalition, walked out of Parliament before the reading of the budget by CS Ndung'u as a form of protest.

2023/24 Health Budget allocation: Sh141.2 billion

Sh18.4billion for Universal Healthcare Coverage(UHC)

Sh3.7 billion for the Kenya Covid-19 response project

Sh4.1 billion for free maternity health care

Sh5.9 billion for Managed Equipment Services (MES)

Sh1.7 billion to provide medical cover for the elderly and severely disabled

Sh24.8 billion proposed under the global fund for HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis

Sh4.6 billion to enhance vaccine and immunisation programs

Sh1.9 billion for construction of Cancer Centres at Kisii level 5 hospital

Sh500 Million for strengthening of cancer centre management at KNH

Sh155 million for the establishment of regional cancer centres

Sh21.6 billion for KNH to improve health service delivery

Sh12.8 billion for Moi teaching and referral hospital

Sh8.8 billion for the Kenya Medical Training Colleges

Sh3.3 billion for the Kenya Medical research institute

Sh2.4 billion for the construction of the Kenyan National hospital buns and paediatric centre

Sh1.4 billion for the equipping of laboratories and classrooms of KMTC

Sh1.1 billion for the renovation of KNH

Sh1 billion for the procurement of family planning and reproductive health commodities

Sh1 billion for the procurement of equipment for the national blood transfusion service

Sh352 million for the digital health platform

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