The Pilot Phase of the Universal Health Care (UHC) Programme has been launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta in Kisumu, in what he said is a key milestone in Kenya’s historic journey as we inch closer to the realization of health for all. Universal health care targets quality and accessible health care for everyone, and it’s one of the government’s main pillars of the Big Four Plan. Four Counties-Kisumu, Machakos, Isiolo, Nyeri-have been selected to host the pilot programme, and lessons learnt from this phase will be used in the countrywide scale-up of the UHC/Afya Care programme. Speaking in Kisumu, President Kenyatta said all Kenyans living in the four Counties with a UHC card will have access to free health care services across County public health centres, “The range of essential health services will include emergency services, child health services, maternal health services, mental health services, infectious diseases management, non-communicable diseases management, inpatient and outpatient services and community health services,” said the President.
He said the government will disburse an additional Kshs 3.1 billion towards the initiative and resources will be invested in public health facilities to strengthen the delivery of primary health care, “Resources will be invested in the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (KEMSA) to ensure all those who fall ill can find quality medicine at public health facilities,” he added. Furthermore, the other 43 Counties who’ll not take part in the pilot phase will be engaged in health systems strengthening as they wait for the countrywide scale-up. The Head of State lauded the collaborative effort between the four Counties and the Ministry of Health.
President Kenyatta noted the social and economic challenges Kenyans face due to the cost of health care, saying that the prohibitive cost of accessing health services has regrettably pushed at least one million Kenyans below the poverty line every year, “Consequences of ill-health are a deterrent to the optimal growth and development of children, the well being of pregnant women and survival of those with chronic diseases as well as the elderly,” he added. He outlined that access to quality primary healthcare can address over 80 percent of a person’s health needs throughout their life cycle by focusing on preventative and promotive health interventions.