KENYA—Kenyan healthcare stakeholders have encouraged the government to ensure the implementation of the new Universal Health Care (UHC) regulations, aiming to provide affordable and accessible healthcare to all Kenyans.

This crucial information came to light during a meeting between the Network of African Parliamentary Committees of Health (NEAPACOH)-Kenya chapter and members of the parliamentary health committee, in addition to representatives from the African Institute of Development Policy (AFIDEP).

The meeting witnessed the presence of members of the parliamentary health committee, including Dr. Robert Pukose, the chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Health, and Dr. Rose Oronje, Head of AFIDEP Kenya.

Furthermore, the conference had the participation of Peter Ngure, the Programme Manager of the USAID-funded Building Capacity for Integrated Family Planning (FP), Reproductive Health (RH), and Population, Environment, and Development (PED) Action (BUILD).

AFIDEP applauded President William Ruto for recently signing the health bills into law and earnestly called upon the government to put these bills into action, thus making a substantial impact on Kenya’s health sector.

During the Network of African Parliamentary Committees on Health (NEAPACOH) meeting in Kampala, Uganda, the legislators provided an update on their progress towards fulfilling promises made in February 2023.

Notably, they highlighted that Kenya has yet to fulfil its commitment to increase health-sector financing from Ksh. 122 billion (USD. 12.2 million) to Ksh. 154 billion (USD. 15.4 million), implement a Facility Improvement Fund (FIF) law and provide seed funding for HIV, tuberculosis, and reproductive health products.

Peter Ngure emphasized the need to expedite young people’s access to sexual and reproductive health information and services.

He also stressed the importance of adopting a systems thinking approach that recognizes the interconnections between health, environment, population, and development, as enshrined in the five pillars of partnership, planet, people, prosperity, and peace within the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

On the other hand, Dr. Robert Pukose, the chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Health, assured the participants that Parliament is fully committed to establishing the appropriate legal frameworks to support the provision of family planning services in the country, a crucial step towards realizing universal health coverage.

These efforts come in the wake of President Ruto signing four Universal Health Coverage (UHC) bills into law on October 19. These bills, including the Primary Health Care Bill, Facility Improvement Financing Bill, Digital Health Bill, and Social Health Insurance Bill, are designed to address issues such as insufficient health insurance coverage and high out-of-pocket costs.

By instituting the Social Health Authority to replace the National Health Insurance Fund, the Social Health Insurance Act of 2023 will eliminate financial barriers to healthcare and address the shortcomings of NHIF.

The Primary Healthcare Act of 2023 focuses on preventive and primary healthcare services to rectify Kenya’s healthcare imbalances. During Mashujaa Day celebrations, President Ruto introduced community health promoters to facilitate this goal.

The Facility Improvement Financing Act of 2023 grants financial and managerial autonomy to public health institutions, ensuring improved resource management, service quality, and community involvement.

The Digital Health Act of 2023 will promote data sharing, develop e-health standards, and personalize patient treatment, ultimately resulting in enhanced healthcare quality and community empowerment through telemedicine.

These four new bills represent a significant paradigm shift in Kenya’s legislative and institutional healthcare framework.

Sector experts believe that dissolving the current NHIF and replacing it with three independent funds dedicated to primary healthcare will ensure a healthier and more equitable future.

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