Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in the health sector have petitioned political parties to increase investment in healthcare from the 3.5 percent of GDP as at 2022, to the recommended 5 percent prescribed by the African Union (AU).
Speaking on Thursday at a forum organised to petition political parties that may form the next government after the 2022 General Election, Dr Samuel Kinyanjui, Country Programe Director of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation Kenya urged the future government to zero rate tax commodities in order to make healthcare affordable for all.
They cautioned that after the World Bank categorised Kenya as a middle-income country, donors have started weaning the country off their support, necessitating more investment in healthcare from local resources.
“We are not safe beyond 2027 as organisations such as the Global Fund withdraw their support. Unfortunately, 70 percent of funds for treatment for HIV/AIDS in Kenya is from external sources,” said Nelson Otwoma, the Executive Director of National Empowerment Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS in Kenya (NEPHAK).
The CSOs bemoaned the quality of healthcare services, citing high levels of wastage of health resources owing to corruption and absence of watertight policies to seal loopholes that abet leakage of resources.
In the proposal, the members called upon the political leadership to ensure NHIF implements strategies that ensure equity in health care access, by covering medical bills for all paid up members and vulnerable populations regardless of their social status.
The organisations recommended the presence of a policy framework guiding the implementation of global and regional commitments for health, coordination between National and County Governments and taxation of health commodities.
The COVID-19 pandemic, they noted, had demonstrated that African countries must start addressing their own emergencies, and that the government needed to invest at least 2 percent of GDP in health research and development according to the Science Technology and Innovation Act of 2013.
They called upon political parties to prioritise the need to develop a cos-effective benefits package embedded within NHIF. The leaders of the health CSOs emphasised that they were cognisant of the central role political party manifestos play in shaping policy and priority setting for the country.
“We want them involved in the mapping of citizens and identification on key needs per geographic area, to ensure equitable distribution of resources and access to quality healthcare to the most vulnerable populations,” said Evelyn Kibuchi, the National Coordinator, Stop TB Partnership Kenya.
“The essential benefits package must emphasize preventive and promotive health with the intention of keeping the population healthy and productive. The services must be person centered and address the needs of Kenyans,” said James Kamau, the Executive Director of the Kenya Treatment Access Research and Development (CHReaD).