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The Universal Health Coverage (UHC) is an initiative of the national government in collaboration with County governments.

President Uhuru Kenyatta rolled out the pilot phase of the programme on December 13th, 2018 as one of the Big Four Agenda. Its main focus being, to strengthen the primary health care system and ensure the availability of basic medical equipment and commodities.

This move will not only improve essential service delivery in the Healthcare sector, but also help in poverty reduction as the cost of Healthcare will be favorable. Under the UHC programme, the ministry has scrapped all user fees at all public facilities, including level 4 and 5 hospitals and has guaranteed commodity security through the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (KEMSA).

Outgoing Health Cabinet Secretary (CS) Sicily Kariuki said the programme which is being piloted in the counties of Machakos, Nyeri, Isiolo and Kisumu has expanded health services to a population of 3.2 million Kenyans in a period of 12 months and has provided the Ministry and County governments key lessons to roll it out to the rest of the country.

She revealed that, among key emerging lessons the pilot programme has exposed the need to reorient the health systems towards a primary healthcare approach and skilled health workforce that will increase productivity. The other vital lesson from the pilot has been the role of technology to increase access to service delivery and aid in prompt decision making.

So far, the UHC programme pilot phase has been a success in terms of funds transfer and commodity supply. This has been shown by the increase of service utilization by 30 per cent, adequate supply of pharmaceutical and nonpharmaceutical items by KEMSA.

The human resource capacity of the cuban family physicians deployed in all counties has improved primary Healthcare services. The success level is expected to improve once the ministry fully addresses the delayed transfer of funds from the County Revenue Fund to health facilities and fully roll-out the programme in all the counties. With the full roll-out of the programme and incorporation of private sector, the ministry estimates that the Kenyan healthcare sector is set to grow up to Shs 6.565 trillion.

Among the possible areas of public-private partnerships, the ministry highlighted, includes: Collaboration to increase access to health services by leveraging on the use of technology such as provision of telemedicine, Medical education through e-learning; investments in the field of diagnostics in particular diagnostics in cancer, Heart disease, interventional radiology and Radio-oncology which are essential to Kenya. Domestic manufacturing of medicines and commodities, supply chain and logistic investments, mobile technology, to provide increased access to health services, investments in human Resources by leveraging on innovative medical education interventions in technology to build capacity, data and diseases surveillance through the prediction and response in outbreaks and epidemics, health financing through the promotion of prepayment and the provision of complementary health insurance services among others.

Going forward, the programme will need:
• An increase in the uptake and utilization of community health volunteers’ services
• Investment in the standardization of diagnostics facilities
• Prioritization of the National Integrated Identity Management System (NIIMS) for biometric registration of patients
• NHIF and KEMSA institutional reforms to support UHC
• Strengthening health systems in the 43 non-pilot counties
• Monitor allocated funds to ensure it is put into good use
• Continued collaboration with countries that have successfully run the programme.


Last modified on Sunday, 08 March 2020

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