Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu has unveiled an ambitious health insurance scheme that will provide medical cover to all residents.
On the day of her first anniversary in office, Mrs Ngilu Tuesday said with the launch of the universal health coverage programme, residents of Kitui County, especially the needy, will no longer have to choose between food and medical care.
The governor said the scheme will provide quality and affordable healthcare to more than 270,000 households in Kitui in fulfilment of the second pillar of her election manifesto.
“This launch marks a great personal milestone and fulfilment of an ambition that I have held since 2003 when I served as Minister for Health in the first Kibaki administration,” she said at Katulani Sub-County Hospital grounds.
Mrs Ngilu said she decided to prioritise on the health sector because all development is hugely dependent on the health of the people and that the scheme will relieve residents of colossal hospital bills that often lead to detention of patients in public and private hospitals.
She said the Kitui County Health Insurance Cover (K-Chic) is designed to revolutionise the health sector in the county and ensure all people have access to high quality health services in a first major step in liberating them from the disease burden.
NOBLE AND WORKABLE
The scheme, whose logo signifies the Biblical copper snake that was used to heal Israelites in the wilderness, was lauded as noble and workable by guests at the launch.
Among them was Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki, former vice president Kalonzo Musyoka and governors Kivutha Kibwana (Makueni) and Anyang Nyong’o (Kisumu).
Kitui became the second county to unveil a universal health cover after the neighbouring Makueni County where each of the 270,000 households will pay Sh1,000 per year to enable them benefit from free outpatient and inpatient services in all the public hospitals run by the county government.
With 262 health facilities, 14 of them being level four hospitals, 56 health centres and 192 dispensaries, Mrs Ngilu said her government is ready to prove that this scheme is doable after giving the health sector the highest allocation of Sh3.5 billion in this year’s budget.
“All bills incurred by the patients chargeable at hospitals shall be paid to the hospitals by the county government while the patients are allowed to walk home without paying for the services offered.” she said.
Ms Kariuki said Kitui and Makueni have set the pace for other counties to follow in implementing universal healthcare which is one of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big Four Agenda.
“Universal health coverage is essential in addressing our national challenges and will go a long way in achieving the core principle of the Vision 2030 Agenda and the realisation of a society where no one is left behind,” said the Health CS who officially launched the scheme on behalf of President Kenyatta.
Mr Musyoka, the Wiper party leader, challenged the national government to stop piloting the universal health coverage in only four counties and instead plan a nationwide rollout to ensure all Kenyans benefit.
HEALTH INSURANCE BILL
He urged President Kenyatta to direct the reintroduction of the famous health insurance Bill whose passage Mrs Ngilu championed in Parliament in 2004 in order to entrench the agenda fully in the country’s planning systems.
“Mrs Ngilu is on the right track, she has achieved what former US President Barack Obama achieved by pushing the Obamacare legislation…all counties and the national government should emulate her example” Mr Musyoka said.
The National Social Health Insurance Bill which sought to transform the National Health Insurance Fund into a scheme to cover all Kenyans faced stiff opposition from the National Treasury, then under Mr David Mwiraria, forcing President Kibaki to decline assenting to it, despite its approval by Parliament.
The government is piloting universal health coverage in four counties of Kisumu, Machakos, Isiolo and Nyeri where each gets an additional Sh60 million through NHIF to cater for at least 10,000 households.
The Kitui insurance covers referrals within the county, mortuary services for up to seven days, ambulance services within the county, inpatient bills up to 24 hours after the discharge date, curative, preventive, rehabilitative and specialised services within the county in all public hospitals.
Residents will also access laboratory and radiology services, consultation for inpatient and outpatient services, theatre services, cancer screening, drugs, nutritional services, ambulance referral services, counselling, rehabilitation services, and family planning services.