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Free Health Services as Afya Care is Launched in Four Counties

The Residents of Kisumu, Nyeri, Isiolo and Machakos will get services from counties in the pilot Universal Healthcare program launched yesterday.

“Beginning now, all Kenyan residents in the four pilot counties with an UHC or the Afya Care card will access free wellbeing administrations crosswise over general wellbeing officesfree health services across public health facilities,” President Uhuru Kenyatta said when he launched Afya Care in Kisumu.

The free services will only be available to registered residents of the pilot counties across all Levels 1 to 5 hospitals.

Outsiders will be charged for services, if they don’t have cover.

Uhuru listed emergency, child, maternal and mental health among the essential services residents of the pilot counties ill be offered.

Beneficiaries will also be offered other critical interventions including on infectious diseases management, non-communicable diseases management, inpatient and outpatient services and community health services.

Uhuru said the high out-of-pocket spending on health was not sustainable.

“The high cost of health pushes more than one million Kenyans into poverty every year with more left on the brink of financial ruin,” the President said.

The national government will pump Sh3.1 billion into the Afya Care pilot phase, which will run for six to a year.

The lessons learnt will inform countrywide scale up. Uhuru said the programme will be anchored in primary healthcare. Most the funds will go into strengthening dispensaries and health centres. He said the counties will be engaged in strengthening of health systems.

Uhuru said the government has focused on removal of user fees in hospitals since he took office in 2013. “Access to quality primary healthcare can address 80 per cent of ones health needs by focusing on preventative and promotive health interventions,” he said.

Uhuru said the National Hospital Insurance Fund must be restructured, to effectively support Afya Care. “All publicly financed insurance pools should be collapsed into a single pool,” the President said. He called for reforms at the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority to leverage on technology to boost drugs supply.

Uhuru said the Kemsa board must be restructured for counties, the main clients, to have a representative. “I direct the ministry to create the necessary institutions to allow for the economic evaluation of investments in health, and set tariffs that shall protect Kenyans from market exploitation,” he said.

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