Universal health coverage has been the talk of the day, a global focus and this year's World Health Day theme that has been adopted by the Kenyan government and structured among the Big Four agenda. Several steps have been made towards the realisation of UHC including the ongoing pilot program in four counties that seems to suffer a backlash; the recent reports by the Kenyan media houses make Kenyans feel insecure about their health. From the detention of women at Kenyatta National Hospital due to unsettled bills to the insufficient number of beds that some of the mothers had to face the underserving treatment of sleeping on the floor.
But why would a woman from maternity be unable to raise the medical service fee? This is because the quality of health care increases proportionally to the level of the hospital. Some of these mothers end up at KNH as a result of unnecessary referrals from level 5 county hospitals such as Mbagathi County Hospital which has an overcrowded maternity wing and limited newborn units. This is despite a new spacious maternity block remaining un-operational because it’s not equipped to meet the standard of a level 4 hospital that could handle most of the medical cases unnecessarily referred to KNH, hence congesting and overstraining the national referral facility.
This is an urgent call to the county government of Nairobi to renovate and equip the maternity block at Mbagathi to address the current congestion and unnecessary referrals to KNH. The cost of renovations and equipping of the maternity wing is estimated at Sh265 million according to the Nairobi county health services.
There is also an urgent need to complete and equip the 66-bed block at Mama Lucy Kibaki Hospital and establish the A&E centre. These mechanisms will reduce pressure at KNH, provide affordable and quality health care to patients and help the current era stay on track towards achieving universal health coverage, which is not only about insurance coverage.