NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 5 – The government on Tuesday released Sh106 million to be disbursed to 654 health facilities across the country in an attempt to provide universal health coverage.
Public Health Permanent Secretary Mark Bor explained that the monies would be disbursed through the Health Sector Services Fund (HSSF) to facilities that were clustered as Level II and III so as to ensure that finances released from the Exchequer trickled down to them.
Mr Bor who, noted that the family unit bore the greatest out of pocket expenditure on health, argued that the fund would help improve service delivery and also cushion Kenyans from the high medical expenses.
“Studies show that Kenyan families take up 37 percent in health care while the government finances up to 31 percent. The remaining 29 percent is taken up by our development partners,” he said.
“This scenario makes access to health a big challenge for many people. The result is that about four in every 10 Kenyans who fall sick cannot access healthcare,” he observed.
At the beginning of this financial year, each health facility was allocated Sh450,000 from the fund, which was to be released in four quarters.
The first and second disbursements were made last October and amounted to Sh283,000 per facility. In the current phase, each facility will get Sh121,500 before the final disbursement which will be made next month.
“We want to ensure that this money gets down to the Levels II and III facilities because that has not been happening and we will also equip them with enough drugs,” he said.
Public Health Director Shahnaaz Sharif further explained that the money would be managed by locally formed committees which would also be charged with ensuring that the funds were not misappropriated. In addition the government has also employed 47 accountants who would facilitate the same.
Dr Sharif added that Kenyans could also report any incidences of graft involving the funds through a toll free SMS line – 6263.
“There will be a social accountability mechanism where citizens have a right to complain about the misuse of these funds. We are giving the funds to the facilities which are managed by health management committees that represent the citizens’ interests,” he said.
He also noted that there had been low immunisation coverage in certain areas of the country that were marginalised.
“People may not come for immunisation in parts of Turkana because bringing children for the vaccines is not a priority to them; they would rather take their animals for vaccination instead because the animals are their lifeline,” he said.
He also proposed that the ministry works with that of Livestock and education in order to facilitate the uptake of immunisation programmes in such regions.
“We have to find a balance and find out what appeals to them. We need to ask ourselves if we should combine our services so that we can handle such issues effectively,” he said.
Mr Bor added that the government would, in the next financial year, include Faith Based Organisations (that provide healthcare) and dispensaries in the HSSF initiative.
The government also announced that it had recruited 20 new nurses for each constituency in the last financial year in addition to 15 others in the current financial year. Mr Bor added that five public health officers and 10 health extension workers had also been recruited for each constituency.
“So you can imagine that in the last two years, each constituency has had an additional 50 health workers,” he said adding that the medical personnel would be trained on how to handle patients.
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