Kenya Healthcare Federation engagement with Meru County
Kenya Healthcare Federation held the initial county stakeholder engagement with Meru County Health Officials to discuss the establishment of Meru Medical Care. The meeting was held on 10th January 2019 at KHF offices. The engagement with the county was very timely because KHF has set a goal to establish county stakeholder engagements. The Governor, Meru County, has laid a plan to establish Meru Care that will ensure all households have medical cover. The cost of Meru Care is proposed to be Ksh 2,000 per household annually.
Meru County has a population of 1.56million people with 2000 health workers, which gives a ratio of health workers to population at 1:780. Meru Level 5 Hospital is the main teaching and referral hospital and has specialists. The county has one Level 5 hospital, 15 Level 4 hospitals, 25 Health Centres, 157 Dispensaries and 76 Pharmacies.
Dr.Githu Wachira from the Ministry of Health-Non-Communicable Disease Unit, Meru County, said that Meru County is leading in the burden of NCDs with Gastrointestinal Tract (GIT) cancer being very common. He further said that research is ongoing to determine the trigger factors for the GIT cancers. Trauma is the second leading cause of NCD morbidity with a major cause being assaults. Dr Lillian Karoki, Director of Medical Services, Meru County informed the meeting that the total county health budget received from treasury is Ksh. 3.2 billion. She further said that 85% of the total population can afford to pay National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) subscription; the challenge is they do not keep up with the monthly contributions thus bringing the current active NHIF membership to as low as 7%.
KHF was pleased with the vision of Meru County as regards their health agenda. KHF advised that the County should explore ways to increase revenue for the health facilities to make them self-sustaining. Commodity management is important in ensuring that limited resources are used appropriately and loss through pilferage is minimized. Given that 85% of the population can afford NHIF, the County could establish the Meru Care to target the medical needs for the needy. KHF further advised the County to consider licensing Meru Care as an official scheme with transparency in revenue collection, revenue allocation, benefits, beneficiaries and provider management. This would enable the scheme to purchase healthcare services and products competitively. It was also proposed that the County share their proposal for Meru Care with KHF who can assess the benefits package for validity and sustainability. KHF expressed willingness to assist Meru County with advocacy and lobbying to justify the budget for Meru Care and to bring the vision into fruition.