Kagwe: NHIF contributions may be deducted from mobile cash
Kenyans may soon see their National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) contributions deducted from their mobile money transactions, if proposals to fund the Universal Health Coverage sails through.
Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said the government, through the Ministry of Health, was in talks with mobile money service providers to develop a system that would see eligible Kenyans deducted Sh17 from their daily transactions as NHIF contribution.
“We are working with firms like Safaricom and other money service providers, so that when you are doing your normal transactions, if you allow them to, they will just deduct Sh17 from your daily transactions. You will not notice it and they will send it to NHIF and even before you know it, you have a cover,” Kagwe said in an exclusive interview with People Daily in Mombasa.
He said in a few weeks time, the ministry would announce the scheme to Kenyans so that those eligible for NHIF cover can subscribe to the daily deduction services through the mobile service providers.
“We are in the negotiating stage. We have done a lot of work with them, I think in the next couple of days we will be announcing this scheme to the public,” added Kagwe.
The government has been urging Kenyans to enroll for the NHIF cover.
“Until the day you need it, when you get sick, then you realise you have been paying Sh17 and your family is covered. That’s the sort of thinking that we must have. We must appreciate that taking care of oneself is your responsibility. The government will do its part. It will build hospitals but by the end of the day it’s your responsibility to get insured,” said Kagwe.
The Minister stated: “Universal Health Care is about giving money to register a vulnerable group of people, that is just one of the aspects of UHC of affordability, meaning that one who is not able to pay can access quality and affordable healthcare,” said Kagwe.
At the same time, Kagwe said the government will adopt a new training curriculum for medical personnel in the country to align with emerging technological global trends.
“The curriculum that we are currently using was put together many years ago, meanwhile the world has moved on. Things have changed. We are trying to change because the global medical trends have changed,” said Kagwe.
The curriculum, he said, will set qualification standards to address most of the challenges encountered by fresh graduates when they join the world of work.
“We must maintain the standards that we need in the country. It’s not just the best medical equipment that we need. We also need to ensure we have the best qualified staff, whether it’s a lab technician, a doctor, a nurse... we must make sure that those people are well and highly trained, both in quantity and quality,” said Kagwe.
Kagwe said medics will also be trained on non-clinical issues including relations with patients.
“When we talk about standards, we are not only talking about technical issues. We are also training them in non-clinical issues. The care and love for people, the empathy that they should show a mother when she is delivering. If you go to India, you will find a battery of doctors joining efforts to treat a patient, but here we have a possessive concept of treatment where a patient is owned by a physician. We want to move away from that. The whole idea is to see a smiling patient,” said Kagwe.
The Health Cabinet Secretary said in terms of medical infrastructure, the government is focusing on making significant efforts to fight cancer by establishing relevant infrastructure countrywide.
“It’s going to be possible with NHIF and hospitals that we have for you to be treated for cancer in Kenya. A lot of people lose their lives because of cancer. The fatality rate is very high, so the solution is to detect it and treat it in early stages,” said Kagwe.