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Dutch want to support Kenya's UHC

Kenya is currently restructuring the National Hospital Insurance Fund to take over the programme in the national roll-out.

In Summary

•The Netherlands has universal healthcare, but the government requires all adults living or working in the country to have basic insurance, which costs about Sh12,000 annually.

• In the last one year, Kenya has largely looked up to Cuba and Thailand in modelling the UHC because of their hugely successful systems under economic condition's similar to Kenya's. 

Health CS Sicily Kariuki is pushing hard for UHC in Kenya
Health CS Sicily Kariuki is pushing hard for UHC in Kenya
Image: COURTESY/ MOH KENYA

The Netherlands has joined a growing list of nations seeking to partner with Kenya in rolling out the Universal Health Coverage countrywide.

Kenya's Sh4 billion UHC pilot is in its seventh month in four counties, with plans to gradually roll out benefits countrywide next year at an annual cost of approximately Sh44 billion. 

Erik Gerritsen, the Dutch vice minister for health, on Monday said his country can help Kenya strengthen primary healthcare and improve technology.

"Patients needs are changing as patients are changing and therefore innovation is key," Erik told a healthcare workshop organised by the Dutch embassy in Nairobi yesterday.

"In this the opportunity for Kenya is unprecedented. Kenya has a big advantage over the Netherlands. Technology allows Kenya to leapfrog and take advantage," he added. 

The Netherlands has universal healthcare, but the government requires all adults living or working in the country to have basic insurance, which costs about Sh12,000 annually.

This plan covers the basic standard of care like visits to hospital, but some treatments may have an excess for which you need to pay a portion out of pocket. 

Erik said although private insurers participate, the system is largely managed by the government to make it affordable. 

"Everyone is insured and everyone has access to affordable healthcare," he said. 

According to Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki, Kenya's UHC will be insurance based.

The ministry is currently restructuring the National Hospital Insurance Fund to take over the programme in the national roll-out. 

Dr Amit Thakker, head of the Africa Health Business, said Kenya is currently enjoying the highest ever political goodwill in health.

"The health system after devolution  has become clearer and accountability is now even stronger," he said yesterday. 

Dr Thakker said the private sector can support UHC by providing diagnostics,  building supply chain, providing technology and innovation, and financing health solutions. 

"We want to make Kenya a medical hub. There is no reason why patients from Dar Es Salaam and Kamplala should fly to India for conditions that can be treated in Nairobi," he said. 

Currently, India is the number one destination for 95 per cent of the up to 10,000 Kenyans who seek treatment abroad every year. 

In the last one year, Kenya has largely looked up to Cuba and Thailand in modelling the UHC. 

The two countries were chosen due to their hugely successful systems under economic condition's similar to Kenya's. 

However, Dutch multinational Philips is a major player providing medical equipment and supporting technology in public hospitals.

UHC was officially launched by President Kenyatta on December 13, last year.