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NGOs poke holes in draft health rules

Monday, February 26th, 2024 06:30 | By
NGOs poke holes in draft health rules
Dr Margaret Lubaale, the Executive Director. PHOTO/Charles Mathai

Health NGOs’ Network (HENNET) and other health professionals have punched holes into the draft regulations seeking to implement the Social Health Insurance Act, 2024.

Its concerns come even as Health Cabinet Secretary, Susan Nakhumicha invited members of the public for validation of the regulations in Nairobi this morning.

Staging several arguments ahead of today’s validation exercise, HENNET wants the Ministry to rethink over a number of aspects of the regulations, saying some of them are full of confusion and inconsistent with the realities on the ground.

For instance, the NGOs are questioning the criteria to be used to have Kenyans, who do not completely have income, contribute the mandatory Sh300 per month, which totals to Sh3, 600 in 12 months.

Rules inconsistent

The NGOs says Section 20 of the Draft Social Health Insurance Regulations 2024 as inconsistent and questioned how a person who has no income would pay.

“From where?” the NGOs posed in a memorandum submitted to Afya House on February 9, 2024 following a Public Notice from the Ministry of Health calling for Public Participation on the Social Health Insurance General Regulations, 2024.

The NGOs further expressed concern that the same people being asked to contribute are the same ones referred to as indigents.

“Rethink this section entirely, especially if the person has to Sh3, 600 annually with no income,” HENNET CSOs’ comments on the Social Health Insurance General Regulations, 2024.

In the myriad of issues they raised over the regulations, the NGOs also raised concerns over the payment of premiums for the indigents.

“Who pays for who and what among national and county governments?” they further posed, describing the section as vague in that it does not specify which of the indigents the national or county governments are going to pay for. They want this to be clear in the regulations.

Contributions for elderly

“For example, are all the counties equally capable to pay for their local indigents?” they posed, and recommended addition of a subsection to 18 as 18(9) to read like; The indigents for which the national government is the contributor are elderly, disabled... and the county governments are the contributors for those households identified as indigents in respective jurisdiction.

In Part VII of Section 50, on rates payable, HENNET also terms the mandatory requirement for registration for one to access services from the three funds as illegal, if they default on payment.

 “What remedy for those who are not to pay?” the organisations under HENNET question in the memorandum signed by Dr Margaret Lubaale, the Executive Director, the Health NGO’s Network.

“If the Government is not able to sustain the other Ministry financing what surety do we have that the Government will cater for the 3 funds?” they continued, delving into Part III of Section 18 (2) of the regulations, a household in need of financial assistance, and recommending that such settings with PWDS need to be captured. They suspect that the list of households can be influenced due to ill intentions with persons interested in enlisting their parties of interest.

“Persons with Disability need to be captured in this section given the social and financial exclusion they face.

“These regulations need to ensure that such persons are catered for as an attempt to break access barriers especially for PWDs,” they suggested. Their unemployment rates, the organisations noted, are high, and the criteria of registration can be a barrier towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

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