By Lorraine Anyango Opondo
Marwa Kisumu solidarity health cover is now operational.This means that 45,000 household beneficiaries in Kisumu enlisted under Marwa can now walk into the 48 selected health facilities across the county and receive services.
The County, with support from PharmAccess Foundation has paid 67.5 Million to NHIF for the households’ insurance premiums for 12 months as the first phase of the scheme.
The services due to the beneficiaries include in and outpatient services, oncology, chemotherapy, road ambulatory services, referrals, maternity services, dialysis, kidney transplant, surgical services, radiology, chemotherapy And MRI and overseas treatment.
This timely access comes at a time when the National UHC pilot carried out in four counties in Kenya come to an end, and the UHC national roll out only admits about 25,000 households in each county.
The end of the National UHC pilot left many to grapple with unknown future, since many depended on the program to cater for their medical bills for three years, however ones again they found themselves having out of pocket expenditure on matters health.
Hence the significance of Marwa to the residents of Kisumu, at least 45,000 households who formerly depended on the UHC pilot still have a way to cater for their medical bills without incurring catastrophic expenditures.
While launching the scheme, Governor Prof. Peter Anyang’ Nyong’o called on all residents of Kisumu to embrace Marwa Kisumu solidarity health care.
“Let us carefully look at the scheme’s bottle necks and confront them, so that Marwa can succeed and benefit all of us.” Governor Nyong’o said.
“At no single time should the resident of Kisumu consider Marwa as Governor Nyongo’s project, let Marwa be what it means, it’s ours” Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga emphasized during the launch of Marwa.
Governor Kahiga also noted that Marwa will not only increase the number of the poor people with health insurance cover, but also ensure that quality services are available at the health facilities.
At the onset the Marwa scheme was set up to take care of the less fortunate, however with the rising demand of insurance cover as a tested and preferred way to handling medical bills, there are plans to open it up to self-paying members as well as offering group covers so that its inclusive.
A bill is already before the Kisumu assembly, seeking approval for the scheme to be opened to anyone wanting to join. people will not sell their assets to pay for medical bills.
This bill will see to it that groups partner with the county and co-share the cost of insurance, hence enhance economic stability.
During the launch, the governors and health practitioners called on policies to be put in place for compulsory health insurance for everyone in Kenya adding that Kenya should not use models that have failed in other nations.
“We have compulsory insurance for vehicles in Kenya, why can’t we have compulsory insurance for health? Governor Nyong’o echoed the sentiments made by his fellow panelist as they discussed implementation of UHC in resource limited settings.
The panelist spoke on the importance of making public hospitals fully functional and turning them to be facilities of choice to enable them compete with private hospitals upon the introduction of compulsory health insurance.
Noting that this would lead to lower cost of health services, yet impact positively on their quality.
Governor Nyong’o also underscored the importance of partnering with the national government to provide UHC to all Kenyans, “We must not hinder each other in this process, lets develop public and private partnerships.” He added.
The Marwa Kisumu Solidarity Health Cover is aligned with Governor Nyong’os manifesto to provide all residents of Kisumu with accessible, affordable, quality and timely healthcare .Its anchored in the Kisumu County Health Act, 2019 which also stipulates the implementation of mandatory health insurance for all Kisumu residents.
In 2020, the county signed a memorandum of association with NHIF for funding and provision of a social health insurance cover to its vulnerable households, who were identified and verified based on their social and economic status during the UHC registration exercise in 2018/2019 as a first step towards ensuring successful implementation of mandatory health insurance within Kisumu County,
MARWA cover holders will only require their mobile number or an identification card to access care. NHIF is currently rolling out biometric functionality to authenticate patients using the scheme and is promising transparency in scheme utilization, member engagement and timely payment of capitation through a fully digitized scheme management, potentially via the M-TIBA platform.
The county has recently launched a 24 hour emergency call center (0800720575) to manage information flow and coordination of care for Marwa members.