Less than a quarter of Kenyans have some form of health cover, the Kenya Medical Association has said.
KMA president Jacqueline Kitulu yesterday said only 20 per cent of Kenyans have health cover. This means only nine million out of about 45 million Kenyans are covered.
Kitulu said out of the nine million, 88 per cent are enrolled with the National Health Insurance Fund. Something is amiss about the healthcare cover in the country and efforts to provide universal healthcare cover must be fast-tracked, she said.
“In Kenya, those who access quality healthcare services are those who are able to afford it,” Kitulu said.
She accused healthcare providers of focussing on cost-reduction, instead of quality service.
“UHC provision should consistently be patient-centered. It is not a private members’ club,” she said.
NHIF CEO Geoffrey Mwangi said the UHC concept has yet to be grasped by the majority of Kenyans.
“UHC needs to be demystified,” he said, adding Kenyans should be shielded from “catastrophic medical care”.
Head of preventive and promotive health in the Health ministry Peter Cherutich said the government is doing all it can to ensure universal health cover is achieved.
He said there are some significant improvements in healthcare as indicators, such as maternal deaths, have reduced significantly.
“Eighty per cent of the deliveries today are safe. We are confident this time we will do it,” he
Cherutich said scepticism about the UHC plan, which is one of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big Four Agenda, is justifiable.
“Maybe not in 2022 as envisaged, but we will get there,” he said.
He said since Independence health has never been the main part of the government’s agenda.
“Of the Big Four, health is the big brother,” Cherutich said.
Prof MS Abdullah of Pwani University said devolution has helped improve resource allocation to the health sector. Most counties allocate more resources to healthcare.