The Lamu County government will set aside Sh1 billion of its annual budget to improving healthcare services in the region.
A large chunk of that allocation will be used to fund the Universal Healthcare Coverage plan launched by Governor Fahim Twaha in October last year.
The county current budgetary allocation stands at Sh3.24 billion per year, meaning that healthcare will take up almost 30 per cent of the county’s annual budgetary allocation.
The Universal Healthcare coverage scheme is expected to cover at least 100,000 residents and aid in alleviating healthcare service provision among the poor in the county.
In a previous media interview, the governor had intimated that the county government will spend Sh600 million in five years to provide medical cover to thousands of residents.
“The county government will pay National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) cover for 20,000 households under the plan,” Twaha stated.
However, the elderly have been exempted from the programme since they are covered under another that targets those aged above 60.
Speaking to KNA over the huge allocation that is yet to be approved by the Lamu County Assembly, Twaha expressed optimism that the county assembly will pass this year’s budget through the Finance Bill terming the budget proposals as balanced.
He said that other sectors that will benefit from this year’s budget include agriculture and education, which are some the sectors still lagging behind in the area.
“We especially need to increase our healthcare allocation given that Lamu, is one among 15 counties with the highest mortality rates that needs to be checked or else we are doomed as a county,” he said.
He further stated that the county was in sync with the national government’s Big 4 Agenda which he said is a key part of the President’s pledge to foster development in the country.
Despite mixed reactions from a section of leaders and residents over the rollout of the Universal Healthcare coverage plan in Lamu, there have been murmurs among some elected leaders who are skeptical about the sustainability of the programme.
“The Universal Healthcare Coverage is a good plan, without a doubt but we need to ensure that it is passed as law within the county assembly to prevent it from being used as a political tool during elections,” Kiunga MCA Sheikh Aboud Babad told KNA.
Sentiments echoed by nominated MCA Amina Kale who stated that the programme can only be hailed as a success if it is made permanent and does not suffer the whims of politicians, who can remove the fund completely from the budget.
“We are proud of the UHC programme because it is changing the way healthcare is provided around the county, and the increased allocation helps in ensuring that we also employ more staff who will be located across the county,” Lamu Health Chief Officer Abubakar Badawy said.
By Amenya Ochieng