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Healthcare dealt a blow as budget slashed by Sh11b

 Primary healthcare offered at community hospitals will be covered by the government. [iStockphoto]

It is ironical, as Kenya Kwanza administration gears towards the actualisation of Universal Health Coverage (UHC), budgetary allocation for health has continued to decline.

The Ministry of Health has been allocated Sh127 billion in the 2024-25 financial year, a decrease of Sh11 billion, from Sh138 billion allocated in the last financial year.

Sh4.2 billion was allocated for UHC coordination and management unit.

In the Budget Statement read yesterday by National Treasury and Planning Cabinet Sectary Njuguna Ndung’u, Sh4.1 billion was allocated for Primary Healthcare Fund.

The Emergency Chronic and Emergency Illness Fund, under the new medical scheme Social Health Authority (SHA) got a share of Sh2 billion.

According to SHA regulations, all Kenyans will register with the new scheme.

The primary healthcare offered at community, Level 2, 3 and 4 hospitals will be covered by the government.

Individuals seeking services at Level 5 and 6 hospitals will be required to provide SHIF card for care.

Those who exhaust their benefits as per the law will access services under chronic and critical fund, that will be fully be financed by the government.

In his speech, Ndung’u said Social Health Insurance Fund (SHIF) will boost healthcare to all Kenyans.

“SHIF now would be important because it will afford all Kenyans with UHC with more benefits,” said the CS.

Community promoters are the highest beneficiaries of the budget. At least Sh4.6 billion has been allocated for the purchase of specialised equipment to be used by the promoters and payment of their stipends.

Currently, there are 107,000 promoters working across the country. Each of the promoters is paid a stipend of Sh5,000, payment done by county and national government at 50-50 share.

Medical interns were allocated Sh3.7 billion, whereas vaccination and immunisation program got Sh4.6 billion.

Allocation to vaccination program is a relief at a time Kenya has been reporting shortage of childhood vaccines, risking lives of newborn.

Malaria, Tuberculosis (TB) received an allocation of Sh28,8 billion, for Global Fund, while vaccination received a total sum of Sh4.6 billion.

Malaria, TB and vaccination programs have in the past been heavily donor-funded, but donors are pulling out after Kenya moved to a low-middle income country bracket.

To enhance early diagnosis and management of cancer and reduce treatment to cancer, Sh1.1b will be spent to strengthen care management at the Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH), and Kisii.

To improve health service delivery, Sh29.7 billion has been allocated to KNH and Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH).

The allocation for the referral facilities includes Sh2.6 billion for the construction of burns, at KNH, and paediatric centre.

Further, the Kenya Medical and Supplies Authority (KEMSA) was allocated Sh5.2 billion, while Kenya Medical Research Institution (KEMRI) got a share of Sh2.5 billion.

Kenya Medical Training College was allocated Sh8.6 billion, an allocation expected to increase the number of health professionals to provide healthcare services.

Also, Managed Equipment Services (MES) got Sh3.6 billion.

People living with severe disability and the elderly will benefit from free medical cover after they were allocated Sh861.5 million.

In the budget, Free Maternity Healthcare, that is offered under Linda Mama program received a share of Sh2 billion. The allocation is far from ministry’s proposal of Sh4 billion.Experts have raised an uproar, saying the move is likely to contribute to more maternal and child deaths in the country, as the program supports at least 1 million mothers annually.

“A slash in funding for Linda Mama puts over one million mothers and their newborns at risk, ,” said John Nyangi, a senior research analyst.

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