Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga has reiterated his commitment to prioritise universal healthcare if elected president in 2022.
Speaking in Migori on Thursday, Mr Odinga, who will be making his fifth attempt at the presidency, said health is one of the fundamental human rights which his government is keen on safeguarding should he ascend to the presidency in 2022.
“We have five fundamental human rights and health forms the inner core. We must be able to provide affordable healthcare to our people and this is achievable,” Mr Odinga said during the commissioning of the Kenya Medical Training College in Awendo town.
He was accompanied by Health Chief Administrative Secretary Mercy Mwangangi, governors Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega) James Ongwae (Kisii), Cyprian Awiti (Homa Bay), Migori Senator Ochillo Ayacko and Woman Representative Pamella Odhiambo.
Other leaders present included ODM chairman Johm Mbadi, MPs Junnet Mohammed (Suna East) Walter Owino (Awendo), Paul Abuor (Rongo), Tom Odege (Nyatike), Mark Nyamita (Uriri) and a host of local leaders.
While noting that the country had been grappling with ignorance, poverty and disease since independence, Mr Odinga promised to change the narrative by ensuring that all Kenyans are provided with free medical cover.
“It is unacceptable that our people should be dying from curable diseases,” he said.
He added: “Effective next year, we will roll out universal healthcare for each and every Kenyan and ensure that all get health insurance since healthcare is a necessity that all our people should be enjoying.”
While noting that the majority of Kenyans are unable to access healthcare services, Mr Odinga reiterated his readiness to improve health infrastructure in all counties.
“We want to upgrade our hospitals in every sub-county to a level five facility. It is saddening that at this time, patients are still unable to secure admission in government facilities due financial constraints. Even the dead are held in the mortuaries for a fee. This must end,” he said.
Mr Odinga, however, raised concern over the low voter registration, which he said would hamper his State House bid, calling on Kenyans to turn up in large numbers and register as voters.
“The signs are clear. Kenyans from all walks of life are ready to support our course,” he said.
“What is worrying is that our people are not ready to carry the weapons necessary to win this battle. Let us get ready with our votes,” Mr Odinga noted.
The ODM leader addressed several roadside rallies at Dede trading centre after inspecting the ongoing construction of Dede modern market.
Mr Odinga, who had earlier been vouching for either consensus or direct tickets in ODM nominations, made an abrupt about-turn, saying that the party members will elect their preferred candidates who will vie in various positions in the next election.
While addressing a gathering in Awendo town, Mr Odinga maintained that ODM will run free and fair primaries should consensus fail.
“We will ensure that ODM party members elect their preferred candidates during the primaries. The exercise will be conducted as many times as possible until all the aspirants are satisfied,” he said.
“All we are avoiding is a case where losers ditch the party to run as independent candidates,” he said.
The ODM leader encouraged dialogue among aspirants, urging them to reach a consensus on the best person to fly the party ticket, failure to which party members will elect a candidate of their choice.
“The party will employ four options to nominate its candidates. The first one will be consensus, while the delegates system will be the second option. Should there be discontent party members with membership cards and not just IDs will come on board,” he said.
“Therefore, those who want to be members of the party should take advantage of the ongoing free registration to be able to participate in the primaries,” he added.
The ODM leader noted that the party is keen on retaining all aspirants under its umbrella to avoid defections and independent candidates, as such eventualities reduce its chances of benefiting from the political parties fund.