, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 8 – The Ministry of Health has accepted a request by the Council of Governors (CoG) to include all the 47 counties in the Universal Health Care (UHC) piloting programme.
Afya House has however selected a set of four counties that will be placed on a 100 per cent UHC piloting programme with only 10,000 households in the remaining 43 counties being placed on the test phase.
“My ministry is working in consultation with CoG and The National Treasury to ensure that funds for this aspect of UHC are made available,” Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki said in a statement to newsrooms on Sunday.
She said the national government will mobilize available resources from conditional grants to fund the programme in the 43 counties factored into the plan.
The ministry assured that no county will be disenfranchised since the national government will not use resources earmarked for the counties to fund the programme.
CS Kariuki defended the ministry’s decision to undertake 100 per cent piloting in only four counties saying the move was founded on scientific tenets.
“This has been informed by science, which indicates that by piloting 100pc coverage in four counties as a sample size of the population, it will be enough to inform the design of UHC roll out across the entire country. We must pilot to create evidence,” she said.
“This arises from a critical challenge to the achievement of UHC, which is the identification of an operational approach that enables the rapid expansion of coverage for delivering an essential package of quality basic health services that is both fiscally sustainable and consistent with Kenya’s governance structure,” she went on explaining citing Thailand as an example where UHC was piloted in six provinces in April 2001 before a nationwide rollout a year later – April 2002.
Following a full council meeting on April 3, CoG had resolved to ask the national government to expand the UHC pilot phase to all counties even as it indicated that it had approached the Ministry of Health to partner in establishing more cancer centers in the country.
CoG Chairperson Josphat Nanok said at the time the establishment of four cancer hospitals would commence in May.
“In view of the President’s agenda to provide Universal Health Care (UHC) for all citizens of Kenya, the CoG Committee on Health in partnership with the Ministry of Health, National Housing and Insurance Fund (NHIF) and the World Bank has developed a four-year plan with regards to the implementation and attainment of Universal Health Care,” Nanok said adding that counties were keen to have 51.6 million Kenyans accessing affordable healthcare by 2022.
In her statement on Sunday, CS Kariuki underscored the importance of implementing UHC while noting the integral role affordable healthcare for all – a pillar in President Uhuru Kenyatta’s five-year delivery plan – would play in supplementing government efforts to eradicate poverty.
“The UHC is part of the Big Four Agenda announced by His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta to ensure all Kenyans have access to quality healthcare services that they require without the risk of falling into poverty,” she pointed out.
“The President’s vision is that all people and communities can access and use health services (whether it is promotive, preventive or curative) they need, that is of sufficient quality to be effective, while ensuring that the use of these services does not expose the user to financial hardship,” she added.
Affordable healthcare for all is a co-pillar in President Kenyatta’s four-point action plan, which includes food security, affordable housing, and manufacturing.
The four-point action plan popularly referred to as the Big Four Agenda was unveiled during President Kenyatta’s second term inauguration on November 28 last year.
The Head of State has since embarked on an international campaign seeking partners for the realization of his Big Four Agenda the latest visit taking him to Cuba where wide-ranging health agreements were sealed.
During the visit, Kenyatta agreed with his Cuban counterpart to have 100 medical specialists from the Caribbean nation dispatched to Kenya with 50 Kenyan doctors set to fly to Cuba for specialized training.
While addressing the press on March 8 during her inaugural media briefing, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Cabinet Secretary Ambassador Monica Juma had said her ministry had embarked on an exercise aimed at identifying nations that Kenya could partner with on the delivery of the Big Four Agenda.
“We’re conducting the global mapping exercise to establish the competitive advantage for services and secondly to identify partners who are able to work with our private sector as well as the government to deliver on this agenda at the optimal cost and within the shortest possible time,” she said.