, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 2 – The government is on the right course in its quest for affordable healthcare for all, President Uhuru Kenyatta reported in his State of the Nation address to Parliament on Wednesday.
The Head of State noted that the number of Malaria infections have fallen from eleven to eight per cent in under a year with the infant mortality rate per thousand live births falling from 52 to 39.
President Kenyatta said the mortality rate for children under five years had also dropped over the past one year from 74 to 52 per 1,000 with maternal mortality also declining from 488 to 362 per 1,000.
According to President Kenyatta, the decline in deaths of new borns, children under five, and women giving birth was made possible by among other factors, access to anti-retroviral (ARVs) drugs.
“Today 94 per cent of HIV-positive expectant mothers attending antenatal clinics access the ARVs; mother-to-child HIV transmission has consequently fallen sharply,” said the president.
He said the government will continue to enhance the uptake of ARVs by HIV positive mothers while underscoring the importance of the drugs in sustaining gains made in reducing and ultimately eliminating mother-to-child infections.
Towards the attainment of Universal Healthcare, President Kenyatta said the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) had been rolled out to more outlets.
“We have increased health facilities from 9,000 in 2013 to 11,000 in 2017. The NHIF coverage widened from a membership of 3.8 million in 2013 to 7.2 million currently,” he said adding that a total of 42,000 aged persons and persons living with disabilities had been provided with NHIF covers.
The expanded coverage according to President Kenyatta, had a direct impact on the number of child deliveries conducted by skilled attendants from 44 per cent in 2013 to 66 in 2017.
The Head of State, however regretted plummeting immunization rates recorded in the recent past from 90 per cent to 70 per cent.
The President said moving forward, the National Government will work in concert with county governments to ensure immunisation programmes are implemented without exception.
“I am happy to inform you the county governments are keen and willing to work with the national government towards putting together a programme to up our immunization to where we were, if not better,” he said.
Healthcare is one of the four pillars identified by President Kenyatta in his 2017-2022 development blueprint, the others being manufacturing, affordable housing and food security.
Towards the realisation of universal healthcare, the government is in the process of piloting Universal Healthcare in four counties of Kisumu, Isiolo, Nyeri, and Machakos.
During this phase, 10,000 households in the remaining 43 counties will be included in the pilot as well.