Government of Kenya has announced its plan in reforming the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) to accommodate more vulnerable groups, as it seeks to implement Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
According to the Deputy President, Rigathi Gachagua, this initiative will widen the NHIF scope of coverage to ensure that every Kenyan, including people with disabilities are able to access health services at an affordable cost.
“Reforms at the NHIF systems are ongoing to ensure we cover everyone including vulnerable groups like the old, people with disabilities among others. We must stop these harambees to raise money to pay 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.
The Deputy President was speaking during the 11th graduation ceremony at the Outspan Medical college in Nyeri.
The Health Cabinet Secretary, Susan Nakhumicha also addressing the congregation disclosed that the Ministry is embarking on an ambitious plan to enlist 5 million new vulnerable members of the society to the scheme.
Currently about 10.6 million Kenyans are covered by the national medical insurer.
Only 46% of these registered members, according to NHIF statistics, are active contributors. According to reports, 54% of these members stopped contributing to the plan as a result of employment losses brought on by the COVID-19 outbreak.
“So far, we have registered 1 million indigents, that is people who are not able to access medical services and my goal is to ensure that 5 million get registered. My promise to Kenyans is that they will be able to walk into a public health facility and get health services,” Nakhumicha said.
The Deputy President further disclosed plans by the government to foster private-private partnerships in the training of medical personnel and the development of health care facilities in a bid to complement the government’s delivery of the UHC.
He added that the country needed an increase in numbers of healthcare workers to match recommendations by the World Health Organization (WHO).
“The country we need more medical practitioners. As of 2020, we had 189,000 health workers, 66 per cent of them being in the public sector. At least 58 per cent were nurses, 13 per cent clinical health officers and 7 per cent were medical doctors. We have 8 nurses serving 10,000 people, while WHO recommends 25 nurses for every 10,000 people,” stated Gachagua.
“We are also working with the private sector to improve training to the highest attainable standards. The graduates here today and those who will be graduating from other institutions this year will be central as we roll out UHC in the country,” added the DP.