Mutahi Kagwe was appointed into the Health docket almost two years ago. As he was settling into office, Covid-19 hit the country.

The CS has been Kenya’s face of the fight against Covid-19. He has vowed to continue working for the Jubilee administration, even as some Cabinet Secretaries quit to pursue elective positions.

Kagwe spoke to the Star Coast Region Chief Correspondent Charles Mghenyi on the sidelines of the Health Workforce Conference at Sarova Whitesands in Mombasa.

Waziri, many Kenyans are yet to understand Universal Health Care.

There is a misconception about what UHC is all about. UHC is not a concept of giving money to vulnerable people, but rather ensuring that all Kenyans have access to quality health services.

UHC is an encompassing idea, encompassing strategy, which touches on so many facets of healthcare that ultimately result in Kenyans being properly cared for in terms of health services.

What are these facets?

There are three aspects that we need to consider, that is affordable healthcare, access to health and the quality or the standard of the services.

Affordable health means no matter what happens, one can afford to go and get treated. Today, we noticed it for the first time at Coast General Hospital. At the Cathlab, we did the first ever stem cell in a government facility.

The cost was Sh400,000 and the patient was registered with NHIF. He walked in and walked out, having received the best treatment available anywhere in the world without paying anything. He walked in with sickness, and walked out better. That is affordable healthcare.

Access to health means that even if health services are free, are the services available? There is no point in telling people they can get free treatment and there are no hospitals or equipment.

That is why we have built hospitals in Nairobi and across the country. It is why we are equipping the hospitals with ICU facilities and why we have over 7,000 Covid-19 isolation centres.

The last facet of UHC is the standard of health services that we need to maintain in the country. It is not the brick and mortar facilities.

We need to ensure we have the best and the most qualified staff. Whether a doctor, clinical officer or nurses, we have to make sure those people are properly trained, both in quality and quantity.

Have we made strides in achieving UHC, are we close to hitting the 100 per cent rollout of this programme?

We have not achieved 100 per cent rollout of UHC. It is very unlikely that we will achieve it. The concept of achieving it should be such that we do not have a discussion on whether we have achieved or not.

We will only say we have achieved when it is pretty obvious that every Kenyan can get medical care as it is elsewhere in the world.

Waziri, is it mandatory for all Kenyans to be registered with the National Health Insurance Fund?

It is not mandatory, but it is mandatory for anybody who can afford it.

There are many ways of knowing you can afford it. If you are banking Sh20,000 per day from selling mitumba in Gikomba that does not mean you cannot pay Sh17 every day.

Why do you expect people to do a harambee for you when you get sick and you have a chance to pay Sh17 per day for your own and family health insurance? Surely,you can afford Sh17 per day.

What is the government doing to ensure more Kenyans contribute to NHIF?

We are in discussions with mobile money service providers like Safaricom, so that when you are doing your daily money transactions, they can deduct something from your transactions, if you allow them.

If you allow them to deduct Sh17 every day from your daily transaction, you wouldn’t even notice it. The money is submitted to NHIF and by the time you realise, your cover is in place.

Sourced from the star