Governors say health for all scheme a total failure

Kisumu Governor Anyang Nyong'o (right) registers for the Universal Health Care in 2018. Governors now say the pilot phase was a failure.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Prof Nyong’o said most laboratories had no reagents and the model of equipment was complicated.
  • Kisumu County was among the four selected for the pilot phase.
  • He added that the lab equipment in Machakos, Kisumu, Isiolo and Nyeri counties were supplied by different firms with varied service contracts.

Governors have given a harsh verdict on the pilot phase of the Universal Healthcare Coverage (UHC), calling it a failure.

Council of Governors Chairman Wycliffe Oparanya and Kisumu county boss Peter Anyang Nyong’o told a Senate team Wednesday that the pilot phase was made worse by the high prices of commodities charged by the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa).  

The governors told the Senate Ad-hoc Committee on Covid-19 that the failure was largely contributed by Kemsa’s monopoly, turnaround time of orders and poor products.

Prof Nyong’o, whose county was among the four selected for the pilot phase, said most laboratories had no reagents and the model of equipment was complicated.

He added that the lab equipment in Machakos, Kisumu, Isiolo and Nyeri counties were supplied by different firms with varied service contracts.

Delayed deliveries

“The different equipment in the counties used different reagents. Kemsa could not buy and deliver the reagents on time yet people were suffering,” Prof Nyong’o said.

“It took time for suppliers and those with the contract to service broken down machines.”

The Kisumu governor said laboratories are vital in diagnosis and ought to have been the priority.

He proposed the decentralisation of the purchase of reagents.

“Let county governments buy what is specific to the machines they are using,” he told the Sylvia Kasanga-led panel.

For his part, Mr Oparanya said the medical supplies agency should be structured well and have regional warehouses if the Kenya hopes to achieve universal health care.

“Kemsa should not be about the pricing of medicines alone. Drugs from Kemsa are more expensive compared to other suppliers. The agency should also look at the availability of the medical supplies, shelf life and timeliness in delivery during emergencies,” Mr Oparanya said.

“Unfortunately, Kemsa can even take up to a week to deliver products.”

Kemsa was given 80 per cent of the UHC budget.

It was supposed to ensure hospitals were stocked and allocate county devolved governments drawing rights.

Revert to NHIF cards

 As the government remains silent on the nationwide rollout of the scheme, residents of the four pilot counties have been asked to revert to servicing their National Hospital Insurance Fund to access medical services.

The four counties received a Sh3.17 billion conditional grant, each getting Sh800 million.

According to a memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Health, the counties were to match the amount with their own investments.

About 80 per cent of the money was to be used to buy drugs and basic medical equipment.

The pilot stage was to end on December 13, 2019 but an extension to March 13, 2020 was signed by the four governors.

Kisumu was identified because it leads in the infectious diseases category while Machakos records high numbers of road accident injuries.

Nyeri leads in the non-communicable diseases segment while Isiolo was picked to establish how the package would suit nomadic and migratory populations.

President Uhuru Kenyatta said there is a need to expand health architecture for the programme to take place.

“The pace of this expansion should be increased in order to cope with the gradual shift of the pandemic to counties,” he said.


Report by Angela Oketch, Samwel Owino and Nasibo Kabale