, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 25 – Several stakeholders in the health sector are seeking ways of establishing a clear blueprint that will lay the foundation for the devolution of health services.
Medical Services Minister Anyang’ Nyong’o said it was necessary to work out modalities that would help set up devolution structures for healthcare as the country gears up for the county governments.
Nyong’o said there was urgent need for the country to increase the health sector budget to enable those at the grassroots get better services.
“The only thing is that if we get a higher allocation for health, other government agencies will have budget cuts. But since this has not changed over the last 10 years then we must do radical shifts in budgetary allocation,” he said.
He also argued that the current 15 percent budgetary allocation to the health sector was insufficient as it was unable to meet the demands. Nyong’o noted that even though the country’s population continued growing steadily the health budget allocations remained the same.
“If we continue allocating the budget the way it has been since 2003 then the conclusion is that the Treasury has reached a plateau; it cannot go any further and that is not good,” he said.
He further noted that the devolution system would allow counties to negotiate their own loans in the event that they don’t get sufficient funds from the Exchequer.
“The Constitution also gives counties the possibility to negotiate external loans with the approval of the Treasury. This will definitely identify counties that are entrepreneurial and those that will be dependent on the tax payer,” he noted.
The government is also planning to increase referral hospitals in a bid to devolve its services from the national level to the counties.
Nyong’o further revealed that plans to set up a health service commission were in the pipeline and it would be tasked with guiding the structures for devolving healthcare.
“It will discuss various perspectives of devolution and how they impact our health sector and to develop a clear roadmap that will help us to effectively devolve healthcare,” he said.
There are also plans to launch a new healthcare scheme targeting the poor in a bid to make health services accessible to all. Devolution will make changes to the manner in which the country is governed and will help disburse resources from the central government to the local level.
It seeks to ensure that national resources are shared equitably among Kenyans of all walks.
“The new governance system will ensure that we get rid of marginalisation but we need to ensure that the resources taken to the Counties are spent appropriately otherwise we will lose out on the benefits it envisaged,” argued lawyer Kipchumba Murkomen.
He further explained the need to set up clear budgets to ensure that monies required for developing health infrastructure at the county level were not misused.
“People must realise that whatever is not in the County Budget will not be implemented so that it becomes easy to account,” he said.
He also noted the need to clearly define boundaries and educate the masses on the new boundaries so as to ensure that there was no confusion.