More than 80,000 families in Kitui have enlisted for the County Health Insurance Cover in the first one month since its launch, as the county drives towards universal healthcare.
Each of the county’s eight constituencies registered an average of at least 10,000 households with Mwingi West, Kitui South and Kitui East leading the pack.
This means the Kitui County Health Insurance Cover (K-CHIC) that requires each household to pay Sh1,000 subscription fee has already attained more than 30 percent membership within a month.
County Health boss Richard Muthoka said that the region has about 270,000 families with about 15 percent enjoying coverage from the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) and other private insurance schemes.
"With 80,000 households enlisted and more still registering, the public response to the universal health insurance has been excellent, because people have seen its benefits whenever they visit our public hospitals in Kitui," Dr Muthoka said.
Dr Muthoka said the figures were for families which registered between August 21 and September 21 during the 30-day rapid results initiative, and that subsequent memberships may have reached the 120,000 mark.
The scheme was unveiled on August 21 by Governor Charity Ngilu in a ceremony attended by Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki and other leaders.
"I decided to prioritise the health sector because development is hugely dependent on the health of our people. The scheme will also relieve of residents hospital debts that often lead to their detention," she said.
The county has collected Sh80 million in revenues to supplement the Sh3.5 billion annual health budget.
Dr Muthoka said the Sh1,000 will be used for incidental costs and managing the health facilities.
"All bills incurred by the patients are being paid by the county government," he said.
The scheme covers referrals within the county, mortuary services for up to seven days, operation of ambulance services within the county, inpatient medical bills up to 24 hours after discharge date, among others.
Residents are able to access a variety of services such as cancer screening.
Governor Ngilu said the plan is designed to revolutionise the sector by enabling all the residents get access to care.
The county has 14 level four hospitals, 56 health centres and 192 dispensaries.
Kitui becomes the second devolved region to unveil the universal health cover after Makueni.