• Until now, UHC was managed by a task force. National UHC programme to be rolled out gradually next year at an annual average of Sh44 billion.
• Ministry says state will need about 100,000 community health volunteers to provide primary healthcare.
The Ministry of Health has constituted a secretariat to manage the Universal Health Coverage.
The UHC pilot is going on in four counties with plans for a national roll-out next year.
In changes announced by Health CS Sicily Kariuki, eight ministry officials were named to form a UHC secretariat headed by Rebecca Kiptui of the National Malaria Control Programme.
Until now, UHC was managed by a task force led by David Kariuki, who now heads the Department of Health Policy, Research and Development.
Other officials are Matiko Riro, Wangui Muthigani, Irene Mukui, Pepela Wanjala, Jeremiah Mumo, Nancy Amayo, and Jared Nyakiba.
"In order to implement the Health Act 2017, it has been found necessary to restructure the ministry and deploy officers accordingly," CS Kariuki said.
Kenya's Sh4 billion UHC pilot is in its seventh month in four counties. There are plans to gradually roll out benefits countrywide at an annual cost of approximately Sh44 billion.
The ministry is currently restructuring the National Hospital Insurance Fund to play a bigger role in the national roll-out.
A task force appointed in February to propose the new-look NHIF is expected to present its report to the ministry this month.
Kenyans in pilot counties have access to preventive, curative, rehabilitative and palliative health services at minimum financial burden, thereby eliminating inequalities in access to health care.
They also have free consultations, diagnosis services for normal ailments and get drugs for free.
The ministry says Kenya will need about 100,000 community health volunteers who will play the biggest role in the national UHC, because they provide primary and health promotion services.
“Currently all counties have CHVs, but the problem is the coverage, we only have 80,000,” acting head of the Community Health and Development Services unit at the Ministry of Health, Daniel Kavoo, said recently.
He spoke during the Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child Health and Nutrition conference organised by World Vision in Nairobi.
The volunteers are hired by county governments and each is paid a token of Sh2,000 every month.
“Sh2,000 might look like a small figure but the reason counties are baulking at hiring more is that on average, this leaves each county with a wage bill of Sh5 million to Sh10 million every month,” Kavoo said.
He said Kenya also needs 20,000 health workers hired by the national government to coordinate the 100,000 volunteers.
“We currently have 1,750. We have a stop-gap measure so we are using nurses and environment officers to do that work,” he said.
Edited by R.Wamochie