President Uhuru Kenyatta has issued a stern warning to those who may plan to misuse funds set aside for the Universal Healthcare Coverage (UHC) scheme. The Biometric registration for the UHC by the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) was officially launched on Saturday. “For those charged with looking after the funds, I want to promise you that if you do not handle these funds with the care and caution required some of us will go to very extreme lengths to ensure you shall regret it for the rest of your lives,” he stated.
Speaking at the launch, the President said ongoing reforms at the NHIF are among the key steps to ensure the roll out is a success. A mandatory scheme for all Kenyans to be managed by NHIF and regulated by the Ministry of Health is also another step that will be taken to facilitate the UHC. He warned fraudsters not to use NHIF to impede transparency. “I urge the NHIF to ensure the precious funds committed to its custody by both subscribers and supporters are utilized prudently and with utmost transparency and accountability,” he said.
He said the delivery of UHC will adopt the essential health benefits package and will enable Kenyans to gain access to an essential set of health services at a much lower cost.
The package will cover a number of areas including outpatient and inpatient services, communicable and non-communicable disease management, maternity, dialysis, radiology, mental health, minor and major surgery, substance abuse rehabilitation, emergency services and cancer treatment among others.
He further directed the Ministry of Health and the Office of the Attorney General to fast track required legislation and urged Parliament to shun excessive debates over the required laws, “MPs don’t delay us with unnecessary debates, we want to begin delivery.”
He also pointed out that the government will provide health insurance cover to initially one million households who are vulnerable and unable to meet even that low cost premium. The identification of the one million households will begin in a few days across the country and will be conducted by the Ministries of Health, Labour and the County governments.
He said lessons drawn from the successful pilot phase of UHC and international best practices are being infused into the national roll out to make the program sustainable. He said that the pilot phase led to an increase in the uptake of health services in the country by 1.6 million new hospital visits during the 12-month period.