Bid to cover over 5m vulnerable people in national health fund

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2022 02:00 | By
Health CS Susan Wafula
Health CS Susan Wafula. PHOTO/Courtesy.

The government is planning to reform the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) to cover more vulnerable groups, even as it seeks to implement Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

The plan includes widening NHIF’s coverage to ensure all Kenyans, including people with disabilities, can access health services at affordable costs, said Deputy President, Rigathi Gachagua

Also to be covered are orphans and vulnerable children, widows, widowers and the elderly, he said.

“Reforms at NHIF are ongoing. We must stop these harambees to raise money for hospital bills. In due course, UHC will cover everyone so that when you go to hospital, you get treated, your card is swiped and you go home,” said Gachagua.

Medical harambees

The DP’s remarks were echoed by Health Cabinet Secretary Susan Nakhumicha (above), who said her ministry was embarking on an ambitious plan to enlist five  million new vulnerable people to the scheme. Currently, about 10.6 million Kenyans are covered by the national medical insurer.

However, statistics from NHIF indicate that only 46 per cent of registered members are active contributors. About 54 per cent of these members are said to have halted their contributions to the scheme owing to job losses, mainly occasioned by the Covid-19 aftermath.

“So far, we have registered one million indigents, that is people who are not able to access medical services,” said Nakhumicha.

The duo was speaking at the 11th graduation ceremony of Outspan Medical College in Nyeri, where 356 graduands were awarded certificates and diplomas in various medical specialisations, including nursing and clinical medicine.

Additionally, the DP outlined plans to foster private-private partnerships in the training of medical personnel and development of health-care facilities to complement the government’s delivery of UHC.

Top on the agenda was to increase the number of healthcare workers, he said.

“We need more medical practitioners. As of 2020, we had 189,000 health workers, 66 per cent in the public sector. At least 58 per cent were nurses, 13 per cent clinical health officers and seven per cent were medical doctors. We have eight nurses serving 10,000 people, while WHO recommends 25 nurses for every 10,000 people,” stated Gachagua.              

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