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MPs raise concerns on UHC plan rollout

Mercy Mwai @wangumarci

Members of the National Assembly have raised concerns over the implementation of Universal Health Care (UHC) plan set to be launched in four counties next month.

The MPs want a breakdown on how the Health ministry will spending the Sh4 billion from  the government and donors for the project whose launch will be done in the counties of Kisumu, Nyeri, Isiolo and Machakos.

The concerns were raised  as Health Cabinet secretary Sicily Kariuki told the Senate yesterday the ministry is expected to release additional funding for  the project.

Speaking when she appeared before the Senate’s Health Committee, Kariuki said Kisumu will receive the lion share of the additional funds of Sh819 million while Isiolo, Nyeri and Machakos will each receive between Sh780 million and Sh800 million to cater for free medication at the level five hospitals.

The lawmakers raised concerns over the validity of temporary cards to be used to access UHC once the pilot programme is rolled out.

The MPs who sit in the departmental committee on Health chaired by Sabina Chege questioned the sustainability of the programme, saying the provision of healthcare is expensive and ought to be managed well.

The committee members regretted without proper plan on its sustainability, the programme will jeopardise  gains made in the health sector.

Legislators made the remarks even as they told the ministry to clearly define the role of the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) in the process of the pilot study after it emerged it has been left out in the exercise.

This came after NHIF Board chairperson Hannah Muriithi exonerated the fund saying  it is only taking charge of identifying the household recipients that will be enrolled to the scheme.

But MPs Esther Passaris (Nairobi County), Patrick Munene (Chuka Igambang’ombe), James Nyikal (Seme) , Peter Owino (Ndiwa) James Murgor (Keiyo North) and Mohamed Muhamud (Wajir South) said there is need for the ministry to come clean on how UHC will be rolled out.

They demanded to know why residents of Kisumu, Isiolo, Nyeri and Machakos counties are being registered only to be issued with cards that will only be used during the pilot study.

“The ministry should be recalled to this committee to come and tell us the role of NHIF in the  process and the funding of this pilot programme. We hear World Bank has donated some money,” said Munene.

Mohamud raised the red flag over how the ministry will spend the money saying there are a lot of questions that need to be addressed before the official roll-out is done.

“We need to raise a red flag on these Sh4 billion  that is being spent on pilot project yet NHIF is not involved,” he said.

Nyikal regretted that despite the success of NHIF, it will have very little role in the programme yet they are the medical insurer who are charged with the responsibility of providing services to Kenyans.

Passaris sought to know the real goal of launching the pilot programme, and whether it will be beneficial to the poor Kenyans.

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