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.
The Introduction of the Free Maternity Programme dubbed Linda Mama has seen a significant increase in the number of expectant mothers seeking maternal and neonatal health services. This has contributed to a notable improvement in maternal and neonatal indicators thus a reduction in maternal and infant deaths.
Outgoing CS for Health Sicily Kariuki signed an Intergovernmental participation in January 2020 agreement (IPA) with four more Governors to commission the scale up of UHC in their respective counties.
During the signing of the agreement the CS announced that in order to progressively implement UHC, the National Government will this financial year 2019/20 invest KES 41.9 billion in key strategic areas informed by lessons learnt from the pilot and existing health system gaps in Human Resource for health, Commodities, Primary Health Care services, Community Health services and service delivery to supplement County investments.
In the last 25 years, the country has recorded huge gains in improved healthcare infrastructure and services with Kenyans living longer lives. While for example in 1994, life expectancy in Kenya was about 54 years, a child born today can expect to live for 67 years, a difference of almost 13 years.
In the period, Kenya has recorded significant improvement in several key health indicators including a drop-in; malaria, HIV, pneumonia, maternal and child illnesses and deaths. But also there has been a significant increase in non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cancers, diabetes, cardiovascular and chronic respiratory conditions.
Confronted with the increasing prevalence of NCDs the government in 2015 introduced the Sh38 billion Managed Equipment Services (MES) project.
This has seen all major public hospitals in the country increase their capacity to screen and treat disease such as cancer, high blood pressure and kidney problems at county level. However in the public sector only Kenyatta National Hospital offers comprehensive cancercare – radiology, chemotherapy and surgery.
In 2016 Makueni County launched the MakueniCare health initiative that has become a major benchmarking scheme for other counties in Kenya as well as visiting foreign delegations. Through the scheme 62.3 percent of the county’s population has pre-paid access to health services. This excludes those over 65 years who are covered at no cost. This is a significant development given that for a long time Makueni was among 15 counties where NHIF coverage stood at less than 10 percent.