After lessons learnt from Universal Health Care (UHC), Kisumu County has rolled out a new medical cover to cater for disadvantaged members from the community.
Marwa, a dhuluo word meaning ‘it’s ours,” has enlisted 45,000 household beneficiaries in Kisumu who can now walk into any of its 48 selected health facilities across the County and receive services.
The County government of Kisumu was among the four Counties that piloted the Universal Health Coverage as a strategic objective since 2017, alongside Nyeri, Isiolo and Machakos.
The aim was to ensure everyone has access to quality care and is equitably accessible with more focus on indigent households and vulnerable communities of Kisumu.
“This pilot project provided an excellent opportunity for us as County government to learn on what worked and what we needed to carry forward,” said Governor Prof. Anyang Nyong’o.
“We have also identified the gaps that needed to be bridged to improve overall patient experiences and ensure a more data driven approach while still centering on quality,” he added.
This access comes at a time when the National UHC pilot carried out in four Counties came to an end as the UHC national roll out only admits about 25,000 households in each County.
Kisumu County, with support from PharmAccess Foundation has already paid Sh 67.5 million to National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) for the households’ insurance premiums for 12 months as the first phase of the scheme.
Those enlisted in the cover will be able to access outpatient services, oncology, chemotherapy, road ambulatory services, referrals, maternity services, dialysis, kidney transplant, surgical services, radiology, chemotherapy and MRI and overseas treatment.
According to Governor Nyong’o, the roll-out phase will focus on three major areas of streamlining health financing from the tax-based pilot phase to a household insurance-based pre-purchasing.
“This will ensure sustainability of health financing in our facilities and for primary health care.” he added.
The County has already prepared a Health Bill that provides for all the major issues towards health financing and County Indigent Health Insurance Scheme that will provide 100% health insurance to 90,000 indigent households in Kisumu.
The Health Department is also strengthening Primary Health care as the cornerstone of Universal Health Coverage.
Currently the County has 96% community coverage of trained and remunerated Community Health Workers who continue to advance household Health promotion and disease prevention strategies including safe drinking water, sanitation, nutrition, immunization, reproductive healthcare, treatment of minor ailments as well as active community referral systems.
The devolved government is equally strengthening Service Delivery through infrastructure improvement, Healthcare workers support (training and competitive remuneration), availing adequate and quality Health products and technologies and strengthening the referral system.
According to Nyong’o, the National government will be supporting an additional 24,000 beneficiaries, bringing to 69,000 the number of principal beneficiaries who will be able to access quality affordable healthcare at their nearest health facility.
A Marwa cover holder will only require his/her mobile number or an identification card to access care.
NHIF is rolling out biometric authentication of patients using the scheme and timely payment of capitation through a fully digitized scheme management via M-TIBA platform.
The end of the National UHC pilot left many to grapple with an unknown future, since many depended on the program to cater for their medical bills for three years.
The County has also launched a 24-hour emergency call center (0800720575) to manage information flow and coordination for Marwa members.
By George Kaiga