The Role of Private Health Sector in Achieving Universal Health Coverage
The healthcare finance committee held a dinner meeting at Pride Inn Hotel in Westlands on 13th August 2018 to discuss finance advocacy progress that the committee has made towards achieving universal health coverage(UHC). The meeting was chaired by the committee chair Dr. Isaac Nzyoka. This was also the first meeting under the directorship of the new elected Board Director, Dr. Walter Obita. The healthcare finance committee has been mandated to oversee the UHC advocacy agenda at Kenya Healthcare Federation, while reflecting and amplifying the voice of the private sector. The committee has been able to hold county health stakeholders forums(CSF) in five counties.
The focal areas of the CSF engagements were: educating counties on different financing schemes, social/private empowering counties on healthcare financing opportunities they have i.e. private insurance, macro insurance and public insurance, encouraging innovations e.g. Makueni care and Kitui care and bringing together the public and private stakeholders in healthcare financing. County health departments have been evaluating financing models that ensure equitable access to quality and affordable healthcare, without financial strain, for all their people. Different counties have identified different financing models.
Nationally, the national hospital insurance fund(NHIF) has been positioned as the main financier for universal health coverage(UHC). This is a good initiative, but there are fears of overburdening of NHIF and that the poor & marginalized may be left out. This has resulted in various that will cover the poor, the old people and marginalized.
“To reach the Ministry of Health (MOH) aspirations of achieving UHC by 2022, there is need for greater innovation and ‘business unusual.’ It is essential that we ensure that coverage or affordable healthcare for the poor are part of the agenda and that the poor are not left out.” Dr. Amit Thakker, Kenya Healthcare Federation Chairman ,said in one CSF. Dr. Thakker further recommended that NHIF should be reformed to be more responsive to counties needs and that private medical insurance schemes should also be reformed to create a more enabling environment that encourages innovation. Moreover, he said “NHIF should only focus on growth once it has the capacity to ensure that it can handle increased coverage.”
There was positive feedback from the counties on the CSF engagements, saying they benefited from the forum in terms of thinking about healthcare financing options for their population. They realized that they cannot solely rely on NHIF to deliver Universal Health Coverage, however the county should implement their own favorable models that will include the poor and the old people without financial strain.
In parallel, the Benefits Advisory Panel, set up by the Heath Cabinet Secretary Mrs. Sicily Kariuki, to come up with costs and packages for UHC, invited KHF for a stakeholder engagement to discuss on the benefits packages and costs. It was noted that NHIF was not clear on how the poor will be covered. Dr. Amit Thakker requested the panel to share the benefits and cost packages with KHF team so that they can evaluate for any gaps and further advise on what should be done inorder to improve it.