NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 1- President Uhuru Kenyatta has waived maternity fees charged in all public hospitals beginning June 1.
The Head of State, who spoke while presiding over the 50th Madaraka Day celebrations at the Nyayo National Stadium, said the government was fully committed to fulfill all pledges contained in the Jubilee manifesto.
He explained that the waiver would help expectant mothers access maternal care at no cost and would also help reduce maternal deaths.
“My government has made adequate budgetary arrangements to enable all pregnant mothers to access free maternal services in all public facilities with effect from June 1, 2013,” he said.
“I direct that no charges shall be charged by all government institutions to access maternity services.”
Kenyatta also waived the user costs charged at government clinics before patients can access medical services.
He said that the Sh10 and Sh20 charged in dispensaries and health centers had been lifted effective June 1.
“These measures are expected to increase access to primary health care in government health centers and dispensaries by all Kenyans,” he explained.
But even as Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto promised to provide free maternal care as well as increase the access to cheap affordable health care for Kenyans, they have been urged to ensure that government facilities have the necessary equipment and staff to handle their pledge.
The Kenya Medical Practitioners Pharmacists and Dentists Union has particularly taken the Jubilee government to task over the estimated budgetary allocation to the health sector.
The union’s Secretary General Sultani Matendechero said that the budgetary allocation to health must be pegged at 15 percent of the total budget if the Jubilee government is to accomplish its pledge.
He said that under-funding the sector would have serious repercussions on maternity services and access to cheap healthcare.
“Let us not cheat ourselves that the 4,000 doctors who are currently in practice in public service today can be able to give quality service to the people because they are overwhelmed by the numbers and give poor services that lead to loss of lives,” he told reporters three weeks ago.
Stakeholders in the health sector have raised serious concerns on the state of Pumwani Maternity Hospital which is the country’s largest maternal health facility.