President Kenyatta calls for reform of health institutions

President Kenyatta calls for reform of health institutions
FILE PHOTO | President Uhuru Kenyatta during the launch of the pilot phase of the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) programme in Kisumu on December 13, 2018. PHOTO | PSCU

President Uhuru Kenyatta on Thursday directed that all public funded health institutions urgently undergo reforms to enable them facilitate successful delivery of Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

The President said that reforms should start with the National Insurance Fund (NHIF).

“In order to realize the envisioned successes of this initiative, we require an equitable and efficient strategic purchaser for health services for all Kenyans. I, therefore, direct accelerated institutional reforms, starting with the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF), which should see that Kenyans who require care at the National Referral Hospitals, can access it,” said the President.

Speaking when he presided over the launch of the pilot phase of the Universal Health Coverage programme at the Kisumu ASK Showground, the President also called for reforms in the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (KEMSA) to ensure sustained supply of essential medicines at all public health institutions.

“I therefore, direct reforms in the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (KEMSA) to allow for an uninterrupted supply of quality essential medicines and medical commodities, leveraging on existing technology to forecast needs and manage logistics,” said President Kenyatta.

The President ordered the Ministry of Health to create the necessary institutions for the economic evaluation of investments in health and set tariffs that will shield Kenyans from market exploitation.

President Kenyatta who unveiled and signed the UHC service charter, urged County Governments to match the investments from the national government with commensurate investments in human resources in the health sector.

“The health workforce constitutes an essential component to the success of this initiative. I laud the collaborative efforts demonstrated by the leadership of the four pilot Counties with the Ministry of Health and urge for continued engagement to ensure equitable distribution of resources,” said the President.

President Kenyatta asked the national assembly and the senate to fast-track the relevant legislations in order to provide a conducive environment that secures resources allocated for the provision of public services.

He said that UHC was a demonstration of his government’s commitment to ensure investments are made to enable Kenyans enjoy the highest attainable standard of health as enshrined in Article 43 of the Constitution, Vision 2030, the “Big 4” Agenda for development and the global community’s aspirations as outlined in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“The prohibitive cost of accessing health services has regrettably pushes at least one million Kenyans below the poverty line every year, with many others left at the brink of financial ruin,” said President Kenyatta.

The UHC pilot programme will be undertaken in four counties of Kisumu, Nyeri, Isiolo and Machakos whose respective governors attended the launch alongside the chairman of the Council of Governors Josphat Nanok who is also the Turkana Governor.

“Our journey to Universal Health Coverage also christened “Afya Care” has reached a critical milestone today as we launch the pilot phase in the Counties of Kisumu, Nyeri, Isiolo and Machakos,” said the President.

President Kenyatta said following the launch, residents of the four pilot counties will begin to access essential services that will include emergency services, child health services, maternal health services and mental health services.

Others are management of infectious diseases,non-communicable diseases, in-patient and outpatient services and community health services.

“Access to quality primary health care can address over 80% of a person’s health needs throughout the life cycle by focusing on preventive and promotive health interventions. We must, therefore, endeavor to build resilient and responsive health systems that guarantee equitable access to health,” President Kenyatta said.

He said the government will disburse an additional Shs 3.1 billion towards the Afya Care initiative noting that those resources will be invested in the public health facilities to strengthen the delivery of primary health care.

He urged current and potential investors to join forces with the public sector and invest in the health of Kenyans through favorable private public partnerships.

“In addition, various ministries outside the health sector will play a critical role in creating an enabling environment for health, such as the provision of water and electricity to all health facilities. This multi sectoral collaboration will be critical to the success of the pilot phase,” he said.

He appealed to Kenya’s development partners to continue their support for UHC saying the country has so far received immense support from them.

While underscoring the importance of his historic handshake with opposition leader Raila Odinga, President Kenyatta said that there is need to adjust how politics is conducted in the country.

“The setting where winner takes all after elections should be looked into if we want to have an all inclusive government in the spirit of the building bridges initiative,” said the President.

“This idea that when one forms government that it is their time to eat, should be defeated and this can only be done when Kenyans are united in the fight against graft,” President Kenyatta asserted.

Deputy President William Ruto said the government is committed to ensuring that youth unemployment in the country is addressed through empowering them with skills.

“We are committed to ensure that the youth are empowered through technical skills to address high rate of unemployment in the country through vocational and tertiary institutions like Ramogi technical institute,” the DP said.

Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga commended the UHC initiative saying that it will go a long way in helping Kenyans.

“We kept telling our people that every Kenyan who is sick irrespective of whether he or she has got money will be able to access quality medical care under the UHC initiative. This is a very noble idea,” the former premier said.

Health CS Sicily Kariuki, Governor Nanok and the Director General of WHO Tedros Adhanom were among other leaders who spoke at the event.

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