The Cabinet Secretary for Health Ms Sicily Kariuki has described the Universal Health Care (UHC) programme which will be launched in four counties next week on pilot basis as a safety net designed to cushion Kenyans from exploitation by private health care providers.
Ms Kariuki said the Universal Health Care (UHC) programme which will be rolled out in two phases is designed to protect ordinary Kenyans from being pushed into poverty by private hospitals which charge exorbitant medical fees.
“The UHC will cushion ordinary Kenyans from digging deeper into their pockets to pay for health care”, Ms Kariuki told a media briefing in Nairobi.
The CS who was accompanied by the Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) in the Ministry Dr Rashid Aman described the UHC which will be launched in Kisumu on the 13th of next week as an affordable Health Care Programme for Kenyans whose time has come.
“The Universal Health Care (UHC) is not free medical care but an affordable Health Care programme”, CS Kariuki further added.
She said the UHC will, in the first phase be piloted in four counties; Kisumu, Nyeri, Machakos and Isiolo.
Ms Kariuki said phase two of the programme will factor the lessons learned while piloting phase one in the four counties to roll it out in the remaining 43 counties.
The Ministry, the CS said chose Kisumu to pilot the pragramme due to the prevalence of communicable diseases in the lake region, while Nyeri was flagged out due to the prevalence of non- communicable diseases in the Mt Kenya region.
Machakos, the CS said was chosen because of high incidents of road accidents especially along the Nairobi-Mombasa high way while Isiolo was identified due to its sparse population and high maternal mortality rates.
Through the UHC, CS Kariuki said, the Ministry intends to improve the efficiency, functionality and quality of medical care offered to Kenyans in public health facilities which were at the moment bogged down by a myriad of challenges.
She said the government was obligated by the constitution to provide quality health care to its citizenry and it cant sit back and watch while rising health care costs offered at private care facilities were beyond the reach of ordinary wananchi.
“We need to invest in quality health to get a healthy population”, Ms Kariuki said.
She described the UHC as an intermediate step pending the reforming of the National Health Insurance Fund(NHIF).
“While actualizing the UHC, we shall address legislative reforms, institutional reforms and empower regulatory institutions to enable us achieve our objective”, the CS said.
The Ministry of Health, CS Kariuki said will partner with the mainstream media, newspapers, TV stations, radios and even the social media to promote health education, nutritious eating habits, promote health behavior by rooting for regular health check ups per year for individuals especially for diseases like cancer since Kenya was losing over 40,000 people annually from the disease.
By Mutiso Mbithi