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President Kenyatta unveils policy measures to fast track roll out of UHC

MOMBASA, Kenya, Nov 1 – President Uhuru Kenyatta unveiled a raft of policy interventions Saturday aimed at fast tracking the national rollout of the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) pillar of the Big 4 Agenda.

The President listed ongoing reforms at the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) as one of the determinants for the successful roll out of the intervention.

Other policy interventions outlined by the Head of State include the establishment of a mandatory scheme for all Kenyans to be managed by NHIF and regulated by the Ministry of Health.

“…in line with the clarion call of “leave no one behind”, the Government will provide health insurance cover to initially one million households who are vulnerable and unable to meet even that low cost premium.

“The identification of these one million households by the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Labour and Social Protection, and the Counties is set to begin in a few days across the entire country,” the President announced.

The Head of State spoke Saturday in Mombasa County when he presided over the launch of the national biometric registration of needy households for UHC by NHIF.

The President said the delivery of UHC will adopt the essential health benefits package which will enable Kenyans to gain access to an essential set of health services at a much lower cost.

The package will cover a number of areas including outpatient and inpatient services, communicable and non-communicable disease management, maternity, dialysis, radiology, mental health, minor and major surgery, substance abuse rehabilitation, emergency services and cancer treatment among others.

To hasten UHC roll out, the Head of State directed the Ministry of Health and the Office of the Attorney General to fast track required legislation and appealed to Parliament to give priority to the laws.

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He said lessons drawn from the successful pilot phase of UHC and international best practices are being infused into the national roll out to make the program sustainable.

President Kenyatta pointed out that the pilot phase led to an increase in the uptake of health services in the country by 1.6 million new hospital visits during the 12-month period.

“Key achievements of this phase include the establishment of an additional 208 community health units, staffed by 7,700 community health volunteers. Further, there was recruitment of an additional 752 health workers to narrow existing gaps,” he said.

The Head of State reminded those charged with the responsibility of managing health sector funds to utilise the resources prudently and warned of dire legal consequences for individuals found culpable of misuse.

“Any person who attempts to defraud the NHIF or abuse its processes, will be dealt with accordingly as provided for under our laws,” the President said.

During the occasion, President Kenyatta who is also the current chairperson of the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) kicked off a national anti-malaria campaign and received a progress report on the operational reforms being undertaken at the Kenya Medical Supplies Agency (KEMSA).

Health CS Mutahi Kagwe, Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya and host Governor Ali Hassan Joho also spoke at the event that brought together a cross section of health sector stakeholders.

CS Kagwe reiterated his Ministry’s commitment to deliver the Government’s UHC promise while Governor Oparanya, who is also the Chairperson of the Council of Governors said the health intervention is President Kenyatta’s most important legacy project.

Governor Joho thanked the national government for working closely with the devolved units in the delivery of health services especially during the current Covid-19 period.

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He said the Ministry of Health had become more accessible and responsive to the health needs of counties saying other arms of government should learn from the ministry’s leadership team.

Also present were Head of Public Service Dr Joseph Kinyua, Devolution CS Eugene Wamalwa and his ICT counterpart Joe Mucheru among other senior Government officials.

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