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Nakhumicha urges MPs to support health bills

Health Cabinet Secretary Nakhumicha S Wafula has urged the Parliament to pass the 4 crucial Bills that promote healthcare in line with the Kenya Kwanza administration’s pledge to aid achievement of country’s attainment of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) as outlined in Government’s Bottom Up Economic Transformation Agenda (BETA).

Speaking in Homabay on Friday while inaugurating the campaign to eradicate AIDS in children by 2027, the CS said these bills usher in a paradigm in the legal and institutional framework for healthcare in Kenya by repealing the current National Health Insurance Fund and establishing in its place the following funds: Primary Healthcare Fund; Social Health Insurance Fund; and Emergency, Chronic and Critical Illness Fund.

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“I want to appeal to lawmakers across the political devide to put the interest of Kenya ahead and support the passage of these fundamental bills when it get to the floor of the house for debate. I agree with those who have raised a bit of concerns that we should have more time for consultation but generally it’s been an all inclusive affair with views of majority of stakeholders being captured.These bills have been developed from existing documentation and the existing documentation has been worked on together with other entities like CoG,” she said

Her sentiments were echoed by  Homabay Governor Gladys Wanga who rallied behind the local legislators to advocate for the agenda aimed at impacting positively to the wellbeing of area residents.

Appearing in Parliament on August 31,Nakhumicha noted that once enacted, the Digital Health Bill will address existing legal and regulatory gaps in the framework for the e-health ecosystem and its data lifecycle.

Besides, the bill will enable the development of standards towards the provision of m-health, telemedicine, and e-learning in healthcare.

“The Digital Health Bill proposed by the Ministry will build on the existing Data Protection Act by establishing a comprehensive framework to ensure responsible handling, protection, and privacy of sensitive personal health data. It will also provide a legal framework for the establishment of a comprehensive integrated health information system and a Data Health Agency” she told National Assembly AD-HOC Committee while responding to questions pertaining to the activities of WorldCoin in Kenya.

The Cabinet, while meeting in Kakamega approved the Primary Health Care Bill, 2023; The Digital Health Bill, 2023; The Facility Improvement Financing Bill, 2023; and The Social Health Insurance Bill, 2023.

“This new architecture is expected to provide a framework for improved health outcomes and financial protection of families in fidelity to the State’s solemn duty to guarantee the health and welfare of all her citizens,” read the dispatch from the meeting.

The ministry is currently collecting views from various stakeholders on the proposed bills,an initiative that will see several interventions being identified towards the delivery of UHC.

Amongst the agenda is setting up of an emergency, critical and chronic illness fund which will go a long way in saving patients and loved ones from out-of-pocket payments when they deplete medical covers.

The move comes at a time when there is a sharp rise in chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, kidney and heart conditions, stroke, high blood pressure, arthritis and asthma.

Whereas the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) has been handy to families and patients suffering from chronic diseases, its efforts have been curtailed by several challenges, among them inadequate financial resources and red tape bureaucracy.

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