, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 18 – Medical Services Minister Anyang’ Nyong’o on Friday asked the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) to blacklist health facilities that were not offering quality care.
Nyong’o said NHIF should ensure the hospitals it approves offered quality service to its members.
NHIF recently started offering outpatient services to teachers, civil servants and the disciplined forces.
“NHIF don’t just stop at dealing with your customer, also deal with the facilities that your customers go to for services. You must now get interested in what kind of services are offered by these hospitals both in the private and public sector and in accrediting them I am giving you powers today to put some of them in ICU if they are not offering the kind of service that you need,” the minister said.
He also urged the Central Organisation of Trade Unions and the Federation of Kenya Employers to withdraw an ongoing court case over review of premiums paid to NHIF.
“Please remove that case from the court and let us start a new journey. We have come to a situation where really we don’t want to be tied down to unnecessary litigation. Let my people go! Kenyans want to move ahead,” he pleaded.
He once again complained about the inadequate financing in the health sector from the national budget due to competing national priorities.
“We are currently covering about 20 percent of the population in the comprehensive scheme but we are committed in making very good progress to ensure that not just the teachers, (civil servants) and disciplined forces are covered but that all Kenyans are covered including indigents and we can do it,” he said.
He was speaking during the re-launch of a strategic review of NHIF and assessment of the private health insurance providers funded by the International Finance Corporation where he lauded businessman Chris Kirubi for his passion about social health insurance.
“Kirubi has been very passionate about social health insurance and I hope that as we talk here today, his media will carry this to the people so that they will hear that now we are getting somewhere,” he said.
NHIF Chief Executive Officer Richard Kerich said the Act of Parliament that established NHIF needed to be reviewed terming it outdated.
“In that act they call us inspectors, so I am the Chief Inspector and when you talk of inspectors you have some connotation that goes with that word and the act says all Kenyans must be members of NHIF and if you are not, you are liable to imprisonment. So what we have said is that we need to change the perspective and treat our members as customers,” Kerich said.
Metropolitan hospital Chief Executive Officer Kanyenje Gakombe who represented the private sector noted that it was important for more Kenyans to be enrolled in a health scheme.
“We need more Kenyans to be enrolled in a plan that gives them value for money and to shift this country from a situation where people think healthcare can be free to where they know that they should pre-pay for it so that when it comes for time to access services, they do not have to be stopped by a hospital cashier who wants to know what payment arrangements they are going to make,” he said while urging the government to make health care financing urgent business.
“We do not have much time. We have been doing this since the 1960’s so what I will urge for is urgency. Let’s not be talking about a health care benefits authority in 2020,” he said.
Head of Health Initiatives in Africa at the World Bank Khama Rogo said it was important for NHIF to realise that it now had a different population to deal with and that population required more accountability and delivery.
“Nowhere in the development sphere is that challenge more immediate and more severe than in a situation where you have a triad of situations to deal with. This is about working for the needs of ordinary Kenyans,” Rogo said.