The Kenya Forum highlighted last week the vision that the six presidential hopefuls have for Kenya as far as the agricultural sector and the economy is concerned. Today our focus is on health. In doing so we hope to highlight the vision each candidate has for healthcare in Kenya, with the aim of enabling readers to make an informed choice in the forthcoming election not be influenced by ethnicity, political party or media hype.
‘RIGHT’ AND REALITY IN KENYA’S HEALTHCARE SYSTEM
The ‘right to the highest attainable standard of health’ including ‘the right to healthcare services’ is enshrined in Kenya’s new constitution. Unfortunately for most Kenyans the healthcare that is ‘attainable’ is mainly of the lowest standard and access to good medical facilities has been a privilege only the rich enjoy as most Kenyan’s cannot afford it.
Kenya ranks high as one of the world’s worst performers in infant and maternal mortality rates. Estimates of the infant mortality rate range from 57 to 74 deaths per 1,000 live births annually while the maternal mortality ratio is 360 deaths per 100,000 live births (2010).
The country’s health policy 2012-2030 outlines the guidelines of improving the overall status of heath in Kenya with two main goals;
1. Contribution to economic development as envisioned in the Vision 2030.
2. Realisation of fundamental human rights as preserved in the constitution.
CANDIDATES’ MANIFESTOS ON HEALTHCARE
PROF OLE KIYIAPI says that his government will give a priority to sanitation issues. “We will protect water recourses and put stringent measures to control industrial waste and minimize water/air population”, he stated. Prof Kiyiapi also promises to;
- Reform the health system from the community to national level and restructure NHIF to provide more basic benefits for the general population.
- Work to progressively increase health budget funding to at least 12% of the total by the end of the first five year term in office.
MUSALIA MUDAVADI promises that his government will tackle health security to ensure that Kenyans will not die from curable and preventable diseases. Specifically he promises;
- To establish a national health insurance programme funded by government and individuals through graduated contribution aimed at providing access to universal healthcare.
MARTHA KARUA, who has campaigned for maternal and child health, promises to offer a comprehensive health system strengthening with the focus on public education, preventive medicine and institutional recovery.
Martha Karua also plans to
- Invest in middle-level colleges, revamp and broaden the scoop of youth polytechnics and research support to public institutions across the country.
- Prioritize combating infectious diseases.
PETER KENNETH believes that healthy people generate a productive workforce. If elected president he intends to;
- Invest in the county’s healthcare system by setting aside Sh1 billion in the first year to build medical facilities and a another 1 billion the following year to equip them.
- To set-aside another Sh 1 billion annually per county for the supply of drugs across the country as well as provide a national health insurance for all Kenyans. (The shortage of drugs has for a long time been one of the biggest challenges in Kenya’s medical facilities).
UHURU KENYATTA acknowledges that every Kenyan should have access to high quality healthcare and aims to make Kenya an international medical hub, including:
- Focusing on preventive healthcare by employing more health officers, and through the provision of clean water and protection of the environment among other measures.
- Expanding health coverage to achieve free primary healthcare for all Kenyan by 2030 as well as reform the NHIF to uproot corruption.
RAILA ODINGA believes that with the right policies and investments which he says his government has to offer, Kenya’s ailing healthcare can be delivered. Raila Odinga says that his government will;
- Ensure access to healthcare for all Kenyans by increasing government spending, improve hospitals infrastructure among other measures and also work on eradicating preventable diseases.
- Improve access to maternal health.
NATIONAL HEALTH INSURANCE A COMMON GOAL
Forum readers will no doubt have noticed that realize that all the six presidential aspirants have a common goal of ensuring that all Kenyans benefit from national health insurance.
Established in 1966, the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) objectives were to provide accessible, affordable, sustainable and quality social health insurance through effective and efficient utilization of resources to the satisfaction of stakeholders. Unfortunately, the state parastatal under the Ministry of Health has become a shadow of its former self, marred with allegations of rampant cases of corruption.
Clearly, the country’s health sector is ailing and in need of a revolution, who will do it? That’s your decision.