Coun­ties get Sh898m free ma­ter­nity cash

Health PS Ni­cholas Muraguri says early dis­burse­ment fol­lows Pres­i­dent Uhuru Keny­atta’s di­rec­tive to cush­ion the coun­ties

The Star (Kenya) - - Politics Ministries - JOHN MUCHANGI @ jo­munji

County govern­ments have re­ceived Sh898 mil­lion for the free ma­ter­nity pro­gramme for the first quar­ter of the 2016-17 fi­nan­cial year. This is the first time they have re­ceived the money in ad­vance.

Health PS Ni­cholas Muraguri said the early dis­burse­ment fol­lows Pres­i­dent Uhuru Keny­atta’s di­rec­tive to cush­ion coun­ties from the fi­nan­cial costs of the pro­gramme.

Pre­vi­ously, the first dis­burse­ment would be made around Novem­ber af­ter the coun­ties sub­mit­ted their list of de­liv­er­ies. The funds will cover the 183,353 de­liv­er­ies ex­pected un­til the end of this month. A big­ger per­cent­age of the funds will go to coun­ties in West­ern, Nakuru and Nairobi, where the num­ber of de­liv­er­ies is higher.

Muraguri said the pro­gramme has im­proved ac­cess to skilled birth at­ten­dants and sig­nif­i­cantly re­duced ma­ter­nal and child deaths. “Be­fore the launch of the Free Ma­ter­nity Care Pro­gramme, only 40 per cent of our women were de­liv­er­ing in health fa­cil­i­ties. To­day, more than 70 per cent ac­cess and use these ser­vices,” he said.

Muraguri said the trans­fer of the pro­gramme to the Na­tional Hos­pi­tal In­sur­ance Fund will be de­layed be­cause many low-level county fa­cil­i­ties are not reg­is­tered with the na­tional fund.

All the one mil­lion women who will ben­e­fit ev­ery year also need to be en­rolled with NHIF in ad­vance.

/SONU TANU

Health PS Ni­cholas Muraguri and Keri­cho Gov­er­nor Paul Chep­kwony with a new­born at the Kap­katet Hos­pi­tal in Buret sub­county on April 12

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