Third Eye

Find lasting solution to healthcare woes

Wednesday, September 8th, 2021 00:00 |
Health ministry headquarters in Nairobi. Photo/PD/FILE

The founding fathers of the nation had three fundamental aspirations; to eliminate disease, ignorance and hunger.

To do this, the State laid emphasis on education, agriculture and healthcare. This was in 1963. 

In 2017, President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Jubilee administration crafted the Big Four Agenda that was the vehicle to carry his legacy.

The Big Four are food security, affordable housing, manufacturing and affordable healthcare.

Affordable healthcare, on which the Universal  Health Care (UHC) concept was to be derived has been an elusive dream for the country.

According to the President, the underlying reason for prioritising healthcare provision was in recognition that without improved standards of health, the government’s quest for prosperity and better life for Kenyans would remain hollow.

It was also driven by the quest for a healthier population; which translates to higher productivity, when other factors are held constant.

In the beginning, UHC Care was piloted in four counties and key lessons were learnt, including the need to scale up National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF), which has about 16 million members at the moment. However, the government has a long way to go if an Infotrak survey released yesterday is anything to go by.

Much as there has been some drive towards ensuring the right to health is universal, they have however, fallen short of improving the healthcare system, since public hospitals remain understaffed and ill equipped, often resulting in industrial action by medical workers.

Similarly, despite the government’s goodwill for a better healthcare system, affordability and quality medical services are still far from being achieved by an overwhelming fraction of the population.

According to the report, there is still inadequate infrastructure in public hospitals where a majority of Kenyans seek medical attention.

It also showed that only one in five Kenyans have health insurance that covers them and their dependants.

Then there is the NHIF Amendment Bill which proposes that every adult Kenyan to make an annual compulsory Sh6,000 contribution to the Fund if Parliament adopts changes to law in attempt to make UHC a reality.

The grand plans have been mired in graft and inefficiency and were worsened by the challenges that Covid-19 wrought on the economy and society.

To achieve the age-old dream, rein in graft, find practical and lasting solutions to access to healthcare and address grievances of service providers.

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