, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 10- The Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) is calling on all Kenyans across the board to apply for the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) so that it can help them offset part of their medical expenses.
KNH Chief Executive Officer Richard Leresian told Capital News on Saturday that over 78 percent of all patients, who accessed medical services at the institution, were unemployed and were at times unable to meet their medical bills.
He argued that the Fund would help defray some of the bills and also prevent the hospital from incurring losses due to patients’ inability to pay for their medical expenses.
Leresian noted that on average, the hospital was forced to detain close to 200 patients per month due to their inability to meet their medical expenses.
“The fact that they are unemployed makes it very difficult for them to pay and it becomes a challenge for us as a hospital because we are also expected to procure drugs and other consumables so it also becomes difficult for us to provide proper medical care,” he said.
He however added that the hospital was at times forced to discharge patients on humanitarian grounds expecting them to come back and clear their dues, which was not always the case.
Leresian further urged the government to look into setting up a proper national insurance programme for Kenyans.
“We all need to go back and debate this issue and probably see how best we can help Kenyans access affordable health. Health is actually everyone’s business,” he quipped.
He further lauded donors who had provided financial assistance to the hospital to boost its funds.
KNH had earlier in the day released 42 patients, who had been unable to meet their medical expenses, with the help of the Morris Moses Foundation which donated Sh312,995 to sponsor the release of 12 patients.
MMF Chief Executive Officer Alice Mwongera said the donation was meant to complement the foundation’s call for proper medical services in all public hospitals.
She challenged Kenyans to adopt patients by helping them offset their medical bills so as to decongest public hospitals and improve the overall care given in these institutions.
“We need quality improvement of care in our hospitals and that can only be done when all stakeholders come together including the patients because they are the consumers of the services and they need to be engaged,” she urged.
The foundation also launched the first ever Patient Solidarity Day, which it will mark on the second Saturday of December every year, as a call to governments to provide better medical care.
Mwongera noted that Uganda was also marking the day saying she hoped that it would be adopted by the World Health Organisation as an internationally celebrated day.
Moreover, the non governmental institution visited patients at KNH and donated 265 gift hampers to patients in ward seven. It also ensured that the 12 patients released on Saturday got NHIF cards to help them meet their hospital costs in the future.
“In total we want to spend Sh700, 000 for the release of patients so we want KNH to release more patients so that we can give them an early Christmas,” she said.
Catherine Muthoni, one of the patients who was discharged, expressed gratitude to the foundation saying she had been held at KNH for the past 3 weeks.
The hospital has in the meantime assured Kenyans of the hospital’s commitment to providing medical care saying that his medical personnel were still carrying out their duties despite the nationwide call to down their tools.