The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga has undertaken to give precedence to reforms in the health sector for the well-being of all Kenyans.
Raila says this is so important given that the country’s most precious is the people.
“The healthier the people, the stronger the nation and the better our ability to grow from our own efforts.” He said in his 4th letter to Kenyans Sunday.
In what appears to be a strategic communication of his agenda if elected President, even though he is yet to declare candidature for the next elections, the ODM leader noted that the most urgent need facing the country at the moment is how to ensure universal access to quality, affordable and reliable healthcare.
He acknowledged that the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the failures and challenges facing Kenya’s health system.
“It (Covid-19) has lifted the lid on gaps that have denied our people access to health care, despite the fact that the 2010 Constitution requires, among other things, that every Kenyan has a right to access the highest standard of health services including reproductive health care.” He said
He said the health crisis emanating from COVID-19 found the country ‘off-guard’ with inadequate preventive health services.
“If we are to learn any lesson from this pandemic, let it be that going forward, we have to do things differently……The pandemic has taught us lessons of strengthening our resilience and doing things differently during challenging times.” He charged
According to the Former Prime Minister, Kenya needs a robust primary public healthcare system, starting from the family level to the public healthcare delivery system as a whole.
While admitting that universal healthcare cannot entirely be financed by the exchequer, Raila has vowed to champion reforms that will go a long way in streamlining the country’s health systems.
First, he says he will push for a Compulsory Health Insurance Scheme that takes care of both the employed and the unemployed, including farmers and the self-employed.
“We must ensure that this health insurance scheme gives the government primary responsibility to pay for the extremely poor (indigents) in rural and urban areas.” He adds
He also says the rest of the population should contribute to, and receive health coverage from the insurance scheme under the principle of “from each according to his/her ability and to each according to his/her need.”
“In this arrangement, we can then put the money in a kitty from which everybody gets health insurance coverage in a sustainable manner.” He says
Alongside this, Odinga says the insurance fund should be able to make additional revenue by investing in income-generating activities. With such a fund, he argues that every Kenyan would be assured of accessing curative services without the ‘debilitating effects of ‘out-of-pocket’ expenses that are currently a big burden to families in every part of Kenya.
Over and above this, the ODM leader says the country must invest in basics like hygiene, access to clean water, good nutrition, a clean environment, and fitness. “That is why urban centers need to have more space for non-motorized transport while the question of healthy feeding must be a national concern.” He said
Over and above this, Raila is promising to institute major investments in the sector in order to address the issue of inadequacy of health facilities and professionals to drive this agenda.
“We should set timelines within which we ensure substantial increase in the number of medical institutions, medical staff, medical insurance scheme, clinics, and hospital beds and access to a diverse choice of quality and healthy food across the country.” He said
“Very soon, I will address myself to the important subjects of equipping our health facilities, Human resources development for healthcare, and the necessary and needed relationship between public and private health care provision.” He added