NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 6 – The National Government will be setting aside Sh38 billion annually for the next 10 years to equip hospitals in the counties with modern equipment in its bid to make healthcare accessible to all Kenyans.
Speaking after presiding over the signing of agreements to implement the project that will see every county have two hospitals fully equipped with state-of-the-art facilities, President Uhuru Kenyatta said this would relieve Kenyans of the burden of scavenging for resources to pay for healthcare.
“Today is an overdue milestone. Today, we inaugurate a programme through which people with cancer, diabetes or kidney failure will receive much needed relief, and begin to work towards regaining their full health with more confidence,” said President Kenyatta.
The President said the new project would bridge the gap of inaccessibility to healthcare for most Kenyans and ensure citizens in every part of the country enjoy specialised medicare.
“One of the areas where inequality manifests itself most starkly in our country is access to quality healthcare. This inequality, literally, is a matter of life and death; it is our irrevocable commitment to deliver equal access to high quality treatment to all Kenyans wherever they live, and regardless of their economic status,” said the President.
His sentiments were reiterated by Deputy President William Ruto who said the move would decongest Kenyatta National Hospital and the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital which have had to grapple with the rising number of Kenyans who need specialised treatment.
“Other hospitals and health facilities around the country will have an additional 94 hospitals around the country to which they can refer patients. About 100,000 Kenyans every year go below the poverty line because of trying to pay for health from their pockets and it is important that we stop and reverse Kenyans going below the poverty line because they are looking for money to pay for illness,” said Ruto.
He also urged Kenyans to register under the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) as it waivers some payments one has to make particularly when admitted to hospital.
Ruto also called on Parliament to hasten plans to transform the NHIF scheme into a social insurance scheme to benefit every Kenyan.
Health Cabinet Secretary James Macharia on his part lauded the initiative saying the tale of Kenyans having to wait for over six months to one year to get treatment for cancer, diabetes and renal issues would be a thing of the past as counties would be adequately equipped.
“My colleagues and I from the Ministry of Health are extremely happy because what you see is a radical change in the way we deliver health services. Previously we used to have a lot of stress at the Kenyatta National Hospital… at Moi Referral. We have centralised all those services to 94 hospitals in the 47 counties so I am extremely happy,” said Macharia.
The equipment according to Macharia was to be shipped starting Friday afternoon, with the entire package expected to arrive by May.
He added that owing to the shortage of doctors around the country, the suppliers will be tasked with training and creating expertise in the running of the machines, they will also pay the staff as the ministry is buying the service and not the machines.
In cases requiring specialised treatment like cancer noting the inadequate cancer specialists (Oncologists), centers of excellence would be created with a database in Nairobi, where if a cancer patient seeks treatment in Turkana, a scan/image is done and transmitted to the command centre where a doctor even in Nairobi can prescribe treatment for the patient.
One of the suppliers, General Electric from the United States will also help the Ministry establish a training centre, to be located at the Kenyatta University to help train more doctors.
Despite being invited to the signing of the deal, Council of Governors Chairman Isaac Ruto, Kisumu governor Jack Ranguma and Kisii Governor James Ongwae were a no show, however President Uhuru Kenyatta downplayed the politics involved saying the governors were fully in support of the deal.
The facilities will be provided under an arrangement where five reputable and international manufacturers of medical equipment from China, India, Italy, Netherlands and the United States are contracted to install, maintain and replace machines at the hospitals.
The companies that have been contracted to install the machines are General Electric from the United States (radiology), Philips from Netherlands (ICU), Belico SRL from Italy (Renal dialysis equipment), Esteem Co. Ltd from India (Theatre Central Sterile Services Department) and Mindray Biomedical Co. Ltd of China (theatre equipment).
The project will be fully financed by the National Government through the ministry of health and the contracted vendors will provide direct infrastructure for the installation of the medical equipment.