Kenya targets the poor in $15m healthcare fund

Saturday February 8 2014

By CHRISTABEL LIGAMI Special Correspondent

Kenya has embarked on a $15 million programme that will see the government increase its provision of quality, affordable healthcare to the poor in the country.

Through the Africa Health Markets for Equity (AHME) programme launched last week by the Ministry of Health and the International Finance Corporation, the government aims to achieve universal health coverage for all Kenyans.

This is expected to increase coverage of priority healthcare interventions by ensuring that more Kenyans have a health insurance cover under the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) and more health personnel are hired including doctors and nurses in government hospitals.

According to James Macharia, Cabinet Secretary for Health, the government is expected to equip up to 92 per cent of the government hospitals, hire 9,000 more nurses and improve the health insurance coverage for the poor from the current 42 per cent.

“The government and AHME partnership will focus on addressing the challenges of supply, demand, health policies and quality of services in all public hospitals,” said Mr Macharia.

Currently only 1.7 million Kenyans are registered with the NHIF. By 2015, the government expects to have at least 2.5 millions Kenyans covered under the NHIF.

“The Africa Health Markets for Equity programme will support our technical initiatives to expand coverage to the bottom two quintiles of our population,” said Richard Sigey, operations manager at NHIF. “This will give the poor a choice of medical services.”

The Ministry of Health in the 2013/2014 budget received a total of $398.2 million which Mr Macharia said is not sufficient to finance the health needs in the country and therefore the government needed to work with the private sector in ensuring health coverage to all its citizens.

“Adequate health systems financing, a motivated health workforce, uninterrupted supply of essential medicines and health technologies and timely utilisation of the available health information,” said Mr Macharia.