By Jude Titus
Cabinet Secretary for Health, Cleophas Mailu has indicated that his ministry has started talks with National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) to enable Kenyans have a compulsory health cover in the next financial year.
Addressing Journalists in Mombasa at the official opening of senior medical staff retreat, Mailu said that NHIF needs to be reviewed to increase effectiveness and efficiency of the fund.
He revealed that 44 percent of Kenyans cannot access proper medical treatment whenever diseases catch up with them; clearly showing there is a major challenge in the health sector.
‘‘Kenya’s population grows at a rate of 2.9 percent annually, which is placing more demand for health services and so there is need to ensure that Kenyans have access to medical care,’’ Mailu stated.
The CS added that negotiations are in place to ensure that the fund covers the people who seek treatment abroad.
Cleophas Mailu said Kenya is still fighting with the non-communicable diseases despite efforts to provide information to members of the public.
‘‘We have also noted that the general public is reluctant to change lifestyle despite the fact cancer, hypertension, heart disease and diabetes are rising and emerging as a major health problem,’’ the CS said.
In late January 2016, the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) Chief Executive Officer Simeon Ole Kirgotty said that the NHIF board is proposing a financial model for all chronic illnesses in the country.
He said that the NHIF will soon cover chronic diseases such as hypertension, cancer, diabetes and renal dialysis to be separately cared for as a package, separate from the comprehensive cover for common ailments.
“This proposal will be implemented in due course. The efforts toward the attainment of Universal healthcare Cover are a testament of the commitment to a wider national coverage of more than 25 million Kenyans,” Kirgotty attested.
The Health Ministry has also set aside Sh4.2billion to facilitate free maternal care for women in all public facilities in the country. The CS also added that they are working to ensure an increase in the number of KMTC colleges to help curb the current shortage of human resources in Kenya.
NHIF is the primary provider of health insurance in Kenya with a mandate to enable all Kenyans access quality and affordable health services. The membership is mandatory for all Kenyans above 18 years of age.
NHIF members, who majority are from the formal sector, can be fully treated using their NHIF cards without making additional payments.