Kitui County has developed a health policy aimed at providing quality and affordable healthcare services at subsidised
National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) rates.
Speaking in Mwingi West during a development tour on Tuesday, Governor Charity Ngilu said the county government will subsidise NHIF fee to an affordable Sh1, 000 per household annually from 2018.
“This will ensure that Kitui residents access better services at our facilities by use of the NHIF cards,” said Governor Ngilu.
She lamented that majority of the underprivileged and vulnerable households cannot afford quality healthcare due to the exorbitant cost which is beyond their reach.
Governor Ngilu observed that with the introduction of such subsidies from the government, wananchi will be empowered to channel their resources to other income generating ventures.
This new subsidy under NHIF will be in tandem with the county policy which emphasises on the provisions of preventive healthcare.
The county health policy, a departure from the previous policy that emphasised on curative services approach relying on hospital facilities, will incorporate the ‘Pamoja Tujikinge Magonjwa Integrated Programme.’
The paradigm shift was informed by the fact that 70% of people who visited health facilities sought treatment for preventable ailments.
“A simple act such as taking a cup of water on an empty stomach in the morning before meals will go a long way in alleviating major health problems because it will help cleanse the body from toxic substances,” observed Martin Njiru, a public health officer based at Mwingi Level Four Hospital.
In order to ensure that people access quality curative services and to enhance access to healthcare in remote and far-flung outposts across the county, the Governor reiterated his resolve to operationalise 40 additional dispensaries in a three year-programme.
On the same score, the county has acquired a new fleet of 20 ambulances and targets to open an additional 90 health facilities to bridge the gap from one facility to another by a radius of five kilometres.
Similarly, the county government has hired 237 additional medical personnel and engaged 2, 100 Community Health Volunteers (CHVs) to drive the preventive policy agenda to the grassroots.
Njiru, who is Mwingi Central Sub-County Public Health Officer, notes that proper use of water is a critical component in the realisation of Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS), a critical component in realising preventive health approach.
Njiru said that support from UNICEF Kenya and Kenya Integrated Water and Sanitation Organisation has helped upscale the uptake of CLTS activities in the vast and hilly sub-county.
The Public Health official said that improved primary healthcare will go a long way in helping curb the spread of preventable waterborne diseases.
He said that homes that have fully embraced the use of toilets, hand washing, covering of the toilet mouth and general cleanliness around the homestead recorded dwindling cases of sickness.
“Schools have also shown that pupil absentees due to illness are on the decline,” noted the Sub-County Public Health Officer (SCPHO).
Njiru observed that households that have incorporated proper hygiene are spending their time involved in income generating ventures rather than spending their time and resources seeking medical services.
“It is regrettable to spend money on preventable illnesses through simple acts such as hand washing,” lamented the SCPHO.