Rescue UHC plan from deathbed, Kenyans urge
Medical practitioners have called on government to include them in the planning for the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) if the scheme is to work.
Speaking yesterday during the International UHC Day in Nairobi hosted by the World Health Organisation (WHO), experts, trade unions as well as patients were all united in saying the UHC, one of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s legacy projects, was built on quick sand.
The stakeholders poked holes on the programme whose pilot ended on December 2020, exactly two years after it was launched in the counties of Isiolo, Nyeri, Machakos and Kisumu.
“Three things define my little hopes on this UHC journey. If they are not addressed, majority of Kenyans will never have faith in the drivers of the programme,” said John Gikonyo, a renal patient told the gathering.
A fortnight ago, the 54-year-old father of two who was diagnosed with a renal condition in 2009 said his son fell sick, but when he sought to have him treated using the NEMIS status, he realised that his details are not captured at the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF).
“The school and the ministry are saying different things. So I don’t know who is saying the truth. So the three of them; the school, ministry of Education and NHIF need to simplify that process and make it simple and open so that everybody knows the steps and what should happen,” he said.
Representatives of the health sector unions also voiced their reservations regarding the programme that was designed to transform the country’s health sector.
George Gibore, Kenya Union of Clinical Officers (KUCO) general secretary and his Kenya Medical Practitioners Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) counterpart, Dr Davji Bhimji Atellah gave the programme a score of three out of 10.
“I don’t know what to rate because you can only do that when you have something that candidly has a beginning and an end,” Gibore said.
He pointed out that the final report of the programme’s pilot that is to inform its rollout to the other 43 counties is yet to be officially released.
“Since it was completed, we have never seen a report which will inform us what we achieved; what were the challenges, lessons learnt, how we are planning, because this was to inform the other counties how to roll out the UHC,” he said.
“The resources allocated; understaffing, poor infrastructure; poor supply chains and the uncoordinated health systems characterise the programme,” Dr Atellah said.
He expressed concern that the country will never its set targets given the haphazard manner the programme has been implemented.
“It is a good idea, and if we achieve it every Kenyan will be able to appreciate, but the conceiver and the implementer of the whole idea, are two different entities. It’s a mirage and 2022 it is nothing,” he added.
The Kenya Medical Association (KMA) called for the inclusion of health care professionals in the governance of healthcare systems. According to the KMA president Dr Were Onyino, the successful implementation of UHC will ultimately depend on the services provided to Kenyans, in collaboration with other professional cadres of healthcare workers.
“KMA believes the concerns of doctors should be heard. Anything less is bound to have catastrophic consequences.
“The World Health Organization (WHO) has recognised Health Care Professionals as an essential pillar in the governance of healthcare systems. These professionals form a necessary representation on boards and councils that are key to the delivery of UHC and in healthcare governance in general,” KMA president reiterated.