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Gov’t to accelerate implementation of UHC

Ministry of Health Cabinet Secretary (CS) Mutahi Kagwe has said that the government will accelerate the implementation of the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) to ensure that Kenyans are cushioned from financial distress emanating from medical conditions.

Kagwe, speaking during the 17th health sector intergovernmental consultative forum which was held virtually said that the experience with the Covid-19 pandemic has opened their eyes to the fact that a majority of Kenyans are only one illness away from a financial crisis.

“Now that we are increasingly aware of the unpredictable nature of diseases, the success of the UHC is dependent on our ability as leaders in the healthcare sector to come up with sustainable implementation policies and strategies. My Ministry, in consultation with counties and other stakeholders has developed the Policy on UHC and essential benefit package to guide in its implementation. I am glad to report that the process of biometric registration is already ongoing for one million poor households identified to receive health insurance cover under the NHIF. The plan is to increase the cover to more households,” said Kagwe.

The CS said that implementation of UHC has become the main focus of the Government, being one of the Big Four Agenda items and therefore the need to ensure access to essential services needed for health and well-being through an explicit essential benefit package for the UHC Scheme beneficiaries. The focus is now on output financing in order to ensure sustainable financing for UHC.

“There is a growing need for innovative health financing models where traditional healthcare funding and, more importantly, government funding has to be optimally utilized. The Covid-19 crisis has made inefficient and wasteful spending even more noticeable. If we are to learn anything from this, it should be to articulate what matters most and to prioritize investments,” said Kagwe.

He added that innovative health financing is an emerging approach to funding health interventions, through pooling of funds from diverse sources.

“It involves the “mixing or blending” of two or more sources to fund a program and or activity and has been used in several countries across the world – including developed, developing and Low- and Middle-Income Countries,” said Kagwe.

Kagwe said that as doctors, patients and home care providers are turning to telemedicine to reduce exposure to Covid-19, they are discovering that these virtual consultations are also effective for medical care, sharing critical guidance, and providing emotional support.

“There is a saying that goes, “you can’t put the genie back in the bottle.” Once deployed, the use of technologies such as the Chanjo System will only expand as we revert back to solving the challenges and problems that preoccupied us prior to Covid-19 which include too few health personnel, inadequate budgets, and weak health systems. Maybe these technologies will be what helps to accelerate the achievement of our shared goal of universal health coverage,” the CS said.

Kagwe said that in the next few weeks they shall be launching the link between Isiolo and Kenyatta National Hospital to enable telemedicine between the hospital and the County facilities.

“As a Ministry, we are confident that we shall deliver on our promises to ensure that we achieve our target of 10 million vaccinated Kenyans by December 2021. Aware that this year we are celebrating our 58th Mashujaa Day, we are aiming to ensure 5.8million people are vaccinated in the Country. Next week we shall be accelerating our vaccination campaign with a launch in Kiambu. I call upon all County Governments to ramp up their efforts in tandem with us,” said Kagwe.

“Primary healthcare will remain a key point of focus for our government. We have for instance learnt how important hygiene is and therefore it matters that we focus on this as well. We have noticed a decrease in cases of hospitalisation as a result of improved hygiene. I want to appeal to County Governments to really focus on cleanliness as a measure to bring down health budgets. Talking of cleanliness, we need to focus on the markets, nyama choma eateries and other public amenities,” said Kagwe.

By Joseph Ng’ang’a

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