The government has released Sh6 billion to the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) for the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) programme, Health Principal Secretary Susan Mochache said in Kilifi.
Mochache said that at least one million Kenyan families had already been registered for the programme since it started and that a further 220,000 would be registered this year as the state inches towards the target of four million families.
The PS, who was speaking at the Baolala Health Centre in Malindi Sub County at the same time encouraged Kenyans to register with the national health insurer by paying Sh500 per month in order to access services in public and private health facilities with ease.
She said the government was in talks with telco operator Safaricom with a view to enabling Kenyans to make daily payments to NHIF, noting that with such an arrangement, registered NHIF members would be able pay Sh17 per day.
“Since the programme started, we have registered about one million poor families. This year, we are targeting to register 220,000 and because of this, the government set aside Sh6 billion which it has already released to the NHIF so that those registered can start getting the services,” said Mochache.
The PS expressed joy that all the counties had registered families under the programme, adding that those who piloted the programme had started benefitting.
“Through the NHIF card, the beneficiaries are able to access medical services in various hospitals without paying anything,” she added.
The PS said Kenya was on course to ensure that all citizens access health care, noting that the rate at which the programme was being implemented would make UHC succeed faster than other countries which have already achieved the same.
“Many countries have taken a long time to achieve UHC, but if we continue implementing the programme at this rate, we shall be able to achieve our target of 4 million Kenyan families in record time,” she said.
“For those who can afford, we are making it easier for them to make payment and also to ensure that through laws that have been passed by Parliament to the effect that those who can afford must join NHIF so that they are not impoverished because of health issues,” she added.
Kilifi Health Executive Committee Member (CECM for Health Karisa Dadu, urged Kenyans to embrace preventive measures in order to be in good health, thus avoiding spending too much money seeking medical care in health facilities.
National Aids Control Council Chief Executive Officer Dr. Ruth Masha urged expectant mothers to seek medical attention in order to reduce the rate of mother to child transmission of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes AIDS.
Alice Charo and David Gambo, who are beneficiaries of the NHIF urged fellow Kenyans to register with the insurer saying they had received assistance from the fund when they were sick.
Charo, a green grocer in Mtwapa, said she underwent surgery to remove fibroids without paying anything, since she had an NHIF card, while Gambo said his wife received maternity services through the NHIF Linda Mama card.
By Emmanuel Masha