13% of Kenyans cannot afford healthcare
By Lilian Kaivilu
The cost of healthcare in Kenya is still a challenge as 13 percent of Kenyans cannot afford health services. Out of pocket expenses contributes more than a quarter of healthcare spending. This bars 13 percent of Kenyans from seeking healthcare due to poverty. In this regard, Health Cabinet Secretary Dr Cleopa Mailu called for better packages by the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) in order to provide minimum contributions by people living below the poverty line.
According to Kenya Health Sector report published in September 2016, about 7,77 million Kenyans were covered by insurance in 2010. This represented about 20 percent of the population. Out of these, 6.6 million (85%) Kenyans are covered by NHIF, 700,000 (9%) by private health schemes and 470,000 (6%) by Community Based Health Financing. The report notes that most of the people that are covered are in the formal sector.
Currently, Kenya has about 17 health workers per 10,000 people. This is below the World Health Organization standards. In order to address this gap, Mailu urged both the county and national government to adopt prudent healthcare strategies and issues to do with health workforce. “Introduction of medical schools in very key to bring about the numbers we need as a country to address the health service delivery,” he said.
Speaking today during the Inaugural Lake Region Health Investment Conference. Health Cabinet secretary Dr Cleopa Mailu lauded the steps that the country had made in the sector under the devolved system of government. The CS said: “Despite the challenges we have faced, remarkable transformation has been recorded in most parts of the country. Devolution has led to equitable distribution of resources.”
The two-day meeting themed ‘Strengthening Health Care through partnerships for social economic prosperity’ brought together 13 counties from the Lake region. Among those present were Kisii, Nyamira, Bomet, Transnzoia, Kisumu and Kericho counties among others.
The conference held in Kisii University also brought together organizations in the healthcare sector including the National Hospital Insurance Fund, Amref Health Africa, Kenya Medical Supplies Agency (Kemsa), Kisii University, DT Dobie, Save the Children Fund, Intra Health, Kenya Healthcare Federation, Kimya Kisii and Youth Enterprise development Fund.
The CS added that the collaboration in the great lakes region improves deployment of expertise, resources and sharing of best practices. “This tells us that we have similarity of challenges, have a symbiotic relationship and therefore, a cancer centre in Kisii will serve the entire region,” said Mailu.
Although the region currently has a total of 2,250 health facilities, Dr Mailu emphasised on the need for the various county government to ensure that these health facilities measure up to the required standards in health service delivery.