Almost one million Kenyans are pushed to poverty every year as a result of healthcare expenses therefore the Universal health coverage is a fundamental human rights issue, said the health cabinet secretary Sicily Kariuki.
Ms. Kariuki said: “Impoverishing health expenditures as a result of high rates of out-of-pocket expenses is a factor of inequality of access to healthcare.”
She said that four out of every five Kenyans have no access to medical insurance and that among the poorest quintile only 3% have health insurance with disparities between rural and urban populations, where rates of coverage are an average of 12% and 27% respectively.
The cabinet secretary was officially opening the Kenya Health Forum (KHF) conference at a Nairobi hotel attended by health stakeholders from all over the country, the East African region and the international community.
“All this coupled with the fact that 33.6% of Kenyans survive on less than two US dollars per day means that there are still millions who cannot access quality healthcare,” she told the conference.
Ms. Kariuki said the Government has prioritized attainment of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) to reduce the expenditure burden that a majority of Kenyans incur while seeking healthcare. The Universal Health Care Goal aims at cushioning citizens against out of pocket expenditure on health services.
She said that the Government healthcare financing and social health protection approach such as the elimination of user fees, Linda Mama, subsidies for the poor and Health Insurance Subsidy Programmes have been successful.
The CS said: “These government initiatives combined with the efforts of development partners, the private sector and other key stakeholders have seen Kenya register significant progress in terms of health outcomes such as reduction of maternal and infant mortality and increase in the use of contraceptives.”
The CS called upon stakeholders to increase their investments in healthcare and also commended the county governments for progressively increasing their allocations to health services, from about 13 per cent of the total County Government budget in fiscal year 2013/14, to 25 per cent in the current year 2017/18. “This is laudable effort from the counties and we encourage more counties to continue to increase their allocations to health,” she added.
Ms. Kariuki said her ministry will work together with the County Governments to improve service delivery with a focus on increasing access to affordable and quality healthcare services and thanked the World Health Organization for continued support to the Ministry.
The conference declared that the health sector requires more than Kshs. 120 billion annual investments to achieve the government’s ambitious Universal Health Coverage (UHC) programme for every Kenyan.