The National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) announced on Monday (17/04/17) that payouts for Caesarean-section operations had for the first time surpassed the Sh1 billion mark in a year.
Geoffrey Mwangi, the NHIF chief executive, indicated that payments for C-section has so far crossed the Sh1 billion mark for the first time due to increased amounts for the procedure and the large number of women opting for the operation.
“CS is one of the single largest benefits payments under the enhanced scheme,” explained Mr Mwangi.
According to authorities, records show that 24,492 mothers opted for C-section — a surgical operation to help deliver a baby — in the first half of 2016, up from 22,411 in a similar period a year earlier, representing a nine per cent increase.
This saw the national health insurer pay Sh714.7 million in six months to the health facilities that performed the surgery, up from Sh432.1 million in a similar period the previous year.
C-sections accounted for 61 per cent of the NHIF’s maternity costs, and more than a third of the women covered by the fund opted for the operation, underlining how widespread its use has become in Kenya.
On the other hand, the health insurance fund paid Sh440.8 million for normal delivery in the half year period, involving 43,275 women, up from Sh273.8 million a year earlier.
A study dubbed ‘Revisiting Vaginal Birth After Previous Caesarean-section’ released in 2016, found that women who had delivered babies through C-section could safely opt for normal births thereafter.
The study conducted between 2014 and 2015 at Aga Khan Hospital in Kisumu, reviewed delivery records of women, who had undergone C-section but later had normal delivery, and found a success rate of 67 per cent.
“Vaginal birth after Caesarean is safe and can be offered as an alternative to elective Caesarean-section,” noted Dr Bob Achila, one of the researchers.
“Having a normal birth after a C-section is possible regardless of why you had a C-section and how many you have had,” he said, adding most mothers fear that C-section scar could open during labour.
In 2015, the NHIF board increased the amount allocated to CS from Sh18,000 to Sh30,000.
The fund also pays Sh10,000 for normal delivery having increased it from Sh6,000.