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Big win for UHC as State releases more funds  



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Recently the government allocated Sh8.3 billion for the procurement of health products and technologies under the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) programme.

The funds will last the 47 counties about six months, while another Sh4.5 billion has been allocated to the Kenya Medical Supplies Agency (Kemsa). Kemsa supplies counties with basic medical equipment needed to carry out regular medical tests. 

According to Kemsa CEO Jonah Mwangi, counties have the drawing rights and can now begin placing orders for medical equipment.

Drawing rights simply means that the Health ministry has allocated each county a budget based on its population size, disease burden and needs. 

The Gene eXpert machine has been allocated Sh360 million of the health budget, while Sh820 million is slotted for the treatment of opportunistic infections.


Furthermore, Sh5.3 billion has been allocated to pharmaceuticals. Non-pharmaceuticals have been allocated Sh1.9 million. Sh500 million will go to Kenyatta National Hospital, Sh300 million to Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital, and Sh100 million for the Othaya National Teaching and Referral Hospital. 

The UHC programme, which is part of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big Four Agenda, was rolled out in December 2018.

Initially, the pilot project served four counties. Following the success of the project, the project will now be expanded to cover the whole country.  

Mr Mwangi said: “UHC is only supporting counties to ensure there are adequate funds for essential medicines and medical supplies. UHC money is not addressing all the health products; counties will use their money to procure health products that are not within UHC.”

Universal Health Coverage seeks to ensure that all Kenyans, can access elementary medical care. It is now up to each county to decide how to allocate funds and administer advanced healthcare.

This baseline healthcare plan is a prudent way for the central government to ensure that all Kenyans are starting on the same page in terms of healthcare, while at the same time allowing each county the autonomy to make its own decisions based on the needs of its population.  

This is the essence of devolution. There are some things that the State must provide for all of its citizens, regardless of how much taxpayers can afford to give.

These include quality education, equality under the law and good medical services at life’s most critical moments – giving birth, overcoming basic illnesses and disease control. 

But since Kenya is so diverse, it is also important that each county is in control of what happens in its own backyard.

Not all issued should be controlled from Nairobi since many rural areas maintain a certain degree of cultural and political disconnect from the capital. That is the beauty of UHC, arguably the most fundamental aspect of the Big Four Agenda.

By making the move to allocate so much of the federal budget to healthcare while at the same time allowing counties to make their own decisions, it keeps central power in check while still ensuring that all Kenyans have their basic rights.

The UHC has already been a major success in the initial four counties, and this is likely to continue well into the future.

First Lady Margaret Kenyatta’s presiding over the Linda Mama programme for maternal healthcare has seen a decrease in maternal and infant mortality rates. There has been an increase in the number of rural women seeking modern medical services and going to hospitals to give birth.

At a time when Covid-19 is threatening the safety of a big percentage of the global population, it is essential that the government prioritises healthcare.

The government anticipates seeing a healthier population that is more aware of nutritional and hygienic guidelines to ensure a robust and growing labour force.  

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