Raila roots for mandatory health insurance scheme

Monday, August 2nd, 2021 00:00 |
Intensive Care Unit beds and other general health facilities. Photo/PD/FILE

Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga yesterday proposed a raft of measures aimed at establishing robust primary public healthcare system, from family level to public delivery system.

In a continuation of a series of his vision for the country, the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader said there is need to invest in Compulsory Health Insurance Scheme that takes care of both the employed and the unemployed. He said the health insurance scheme gives the government primary responsibility to pay for the extreme poor in rural and urban areas.

“The rest of the population should contribute to, and receive health coverage from the insurance scheme under the principle of “from each according to his or her ability and to each according to his/her need,” said the former premier.

He said under the arrangement, the money can be put in a kitty from which everybody gets health insurance coverage in a sustainable manner.

According to the ODM leader, the insurance fund should be able to make additional revenue by investing in income generating activities.

Raila charged that with such a fund, every Kenyan would be assured of accessing curative services without the debilitating effects of out-of- pocket expenses that is currently a big burden to families.

“We need to invest in basics such as hygiene, access to clean water, good nutrition, clean environment and fitness.

That is why urban centres need to have more space for non-motorised transport while the question of healthy feeding must be a national concern,” he said.

Healthy food

In what is seen as a new political strategy, Raila has been churning out statements seen as policy documents on what should be done in the event he forms government.

Yesterday, the former premier expounded that the country should set timelines within which a substantial increase in the number of medical institutions, medical staff, medical insurance scheme, clinics and hospital beds and access to a diverse choice of quality and healthy food across the country is achieved.

He said a universal health insurance scheme will fail in an environment that lacks proper primary and preventive health, adding that coronavirus has reminded Kenyans of things they knew but ignored.

“Covid-19 found us off-guard with inadequate preventive health services while the curative services were equally wanting, with the best reserved for the elite who can pay for it.

The Covid-19 pandemic exposed the failures and challenges facing our health system,” he said.

Raila, noted there are so many hospitals and beds even for those with money, explaining that in the current pandemic, even the elite driven approach has been tested and found below expectation.

He recalled that the recent memorable efforts to deal with the question of access to healthcare can be traced to the Narc and Grand coalition governments, adding that such efforts fell short of what the country really needs.

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s administration rolled out the Universal Health Coverage to ensure every Kenyan gets affordable and quality health  care.

However, Raila stated that the system continues to experience challenges primarily because it is entirely financed by the Exchequer.

“Universal healthcare cannot entirely be financed by the exchequer. While we must relentlessly pursue the implementation of Universal Health Coverage and the requisite legal and institutional reforms needed, we need to ensure universal access to quality, affordable and reliable healthcare: both preventive and curative,” said Raila.

Raila said that he will also address the important subjects of equipping health facilities, human resources development for healthcare and the necessary and needed relationship between public and private health care provision.

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