Implement President’s pledge on healthcare
It has been over 50 years since Kenya’s founding fathers pledged to address the three challenges that plagued Kenyans: poverty, disease and ignorance.
Over time, Kenya has achieved one of the highest adult literacy rates in Africa, life expectancy has increased from 48 years to 67 years, and the average per capita gross income has grown almost fivefold over that period.
While this progress is something that we reflect on with pride, Kenyans continue to bear the costs of the rising burden of communicable and non-communicable diseases. These diseases are eroding earlier gains, leaving more than one million of the most vulnerable citizens at risk of sliding back into poverty every year.
It is in this vein that President William Ruto’s promise to restructure the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) to enable it not only to cater for all diseases is a step in the right direction. The bold intention to make Universal Health Coverage a reality and liberate Kenyans from the threat of poverty that stalks them every time a family member falls ill should be implemented sooner rather than later.
Previous attempts by successive governments to ensure that a wider swathe of Kenyans accessed health services without financial hardships have always failed due to corruption and lethargy by some government officials.
In Kenya today, good health has almost become a preserve for the rich. Many poor Kenyans have succumbed to diseases that could have been easily treated. This needs to change. Although the ultimate goal for devolving the health function was to enhance equity in resource allocation, resulting in improved service delivery for the majority of Kenyans, good and affordable healthcare still remains elusive.
The legislators should, therefore, follow up on the President’s promise to make quality health services more available to Kenyans by passing the necessary legislation that will turn this dream into a reality.
Though the President had a wide range of proposals in his legislative agenda as he addressed both Houses yesterday, we cannot forget to mention his resolution to ensure the revival of the National Government Constituency Development Fund (NG-CDF) by aligning it to the Constitution.
NG-CDF should not be left to die as a result of the court declaring it unconstitutional. Ways should be found to make it comply with the Constitution so it can continue delivering value to deserving Kenyans.