LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Pandemic highlights importance of national health financing

Many economic giants, including the US, have been reeling from the high number of infected persons.

In Summary

• The country is still spending a meager average of eight per cent of its budget on the health sector 

• This falls short of the expenditure recommended by the Abuja declaration at 15 per cent

President Uhuru Kenyatta unveils the UHC logo during the launch of the pilot programme in Kisumu on December 13 last year
HEALTH EQUIPMENT: President Uhuru Kenyatta unveils the UHC logo during the launch of the pilot programme in Kisumu on December 13 last year
Image: PSCU

 The Kenyan government has increased the health sector budget by about 30 per cent in the last two fiscal years.

However, the country is still spending a meager average of eight per cent of its budget on the health sector as a total of the allocations made by the national and the county governments.

This falls short of the expenditure recommended by the Abuja declaration at 15 per cent. One of the main concerns after the first case of Covid-19 in Kenya was whether the country would be able to handle an upsurge of infections.

Many economic giants, including the US, have been reeling from the high number of infected persons. This is evident from headlines of US governors fighting over ventilators. In Kenya, Health CS Mutahi Kagwe has said the country has enough — hopefully working — ICU beds and accompanying equipment to handle the rising number of coronavirus cases.

What we know little of, however, is how much the equipment costs, and what the cost complications are for managing cases in private healthcare facilities. Also, what dent will the Covid-19 intervention cause in the 2019-20 healthcare budget?

We also don't know how this affects the financing of other critical aspects of health such as reproductive healthcare and cancer care in the country. Clearly, health financing is an important issue, one that Kenyans need to become conversant with besides knowing about the salaries of doctors and nurses.

Kariuki is communications lead, NAYA Kenya