UHURU PROMISE

Private hospitals to get UHC cash

CS Kariuki said the private facilities will continue to be monitored so that Kenyans are not short-changed.

In Summary

• NHIF is expected to manage the UHC, but it currently pays up to 80 per cent of collections to private health profiteers and only 16 per cent to public facilities.

• WHO Representative Rudi Eggers said this was unacceptable because public funds should not be used to subsidise the private sector.

Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki with kids fighting cancer at Kenyatta National Hospital, Sunday December 23, 2018. /MAGDALINE SAYA
Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki with kids fighting cancer at Kenyatta National Hospital, Sunday December 23, 2018. /MAGDALINE SAYA

Private health facilities will take part in the national roll-out of the universal health coverage, President Uhuru Kenyatta has assured. 

Currently, only public facilities are financed to conduct the UHC pilot in four counties.

Yesterday, the President said the private facilities will be considered in the national roll-out because they provide services to 50 per cent of the population. 

"The resources required to attain UHC are enormous by any standards and therefore require collaboration and synergy between the public and private sectors," he said

The remarks were in a speech read by Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki when she officially opened the 8th East African Health Federation Conference in  Nairobi.

The UHC pilot was launched in December 2018 and is ongoing in Kisumu, Machakos, Nyeri and Isiolo, serving about 3.1 million people. 

"The lessons learnt from the pilot will be used during the roll-out in the remaining 43 counties," Uhuru said.

"This is one of my government’s four priority agenda for development that is aimed at ensuring that no Kenyan undergoes financial hardship in seeking health care."

He said Kenya recognises the important role of Public-Private Partnerships in complementing government initiatives in health service delivery.

"Great opportunities exist in the country for Public-Private Partnership. The healthcare market is set to grow to $65 billion and Kenya is open to private sector investment in healthcare," Uhuru said.

He asked private investors to put money in telemedicine, medical education through e-learning and diagnostics.

"This includes diagnostics in cancer, heart disease, interventional radiology and radio-oncology which are essential to Kenya," Uhuru said. 

Separately, CS Kariuki said the private facilities will continue to be monitored so that Kenyans are not short-changed.

"I challenge the private sector to adhere to quality standards for health care even as they expand to these existing opportunities," she noted.

The World Health Organisation said currently, the private sector is benefiting unfairly from public funds like the National Hospital Insurance Fund. 

NHIF is expected to manage the UHC, but it currently pays up to 80 per cent of collections to private health profiteers and only 16 per cent to public facilities.

WHO Representative Rudi Eggers said this was unacceptable. 

"This is not sustainable. Public funds should not be used to subsidise the private sector. The reimbursement should be equal," he said. 

Eggers also advised that not all services should be subsidised under the UHC. 

NHIF makes an approximate Sh51 billion annually in revenue from contributors.

Experts say this is enough to ensure specific hospitals, especially public referral facilities, have the capacity in terms of enough specialised workers, medical equipment, medicine and other commodities to attend to contributors.