, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 21 – Prime Minister Raila Odinga has said the government will do everything possible to ensure that the controversial Sh4.3 billion civil servants’ medical scheme survives.
Odinga said on Monday that the current crisis at the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) over allocation of the funds to accredited hospitals could be resolved.
He termed the scheme as a useful and desirable system that will make healthcare accessible and affordable.
“The investigations which have been instituted are going to be done without any kind of victimisation; without any kind of blackmail. We just want to get the truth to ensure that this system is not nipped in the bud,” he said.
The premier also promised that the government would ensure contributions to the National Health Insurance Fund were spent transparently.
The comprehensive outpatient and inpatient medical scheme for civil servants which began in January has been marred by claims of irregular allocation of funds to private health facilities.
On Saturday, President Mwai Kibaki ordered a speedy conclusion of the probe into the scandal surrounding the civil servants medical scheme, promising that punitive action would be taken against those found to have “participated in any acts that may have compromised the health of the Kenyan people.”
Meanwhile, the caretaker board recently appointed to streamline NHIF’s operations has assured that services will continue as normal as investigations were ongoing, into the implementation of the civil servants and disciplined forces scheme.
The board clarified that the controversial scheme was still on course and that only payments to Meridian and Clinix health facilities had been affected by the recent scandal.
“Other facilities countrywide have been delivering services as per the existing contracts and members should continue accessing services as usual. However, in view of the emerging issues, the NHIF Board has resolved to suspend payments to Clinix and Meridian pending in-depth investigations, but services will continue,” a statement from NHIF said.
It further stated that the civil servants scheme had four components namely enhanced in-patient medical cover, outpatient medical cover, group life and last expense.
“Of these four components, the only one facing challenges is the out-patient medical cover,” it said.
NHIF also assured that the inpatient scheme offered to all contributors had not been affected by the recent controversies.
“Members continue to access in-patient medical care from accredited facilities without any hitches,” the statement said.
The national health insurer said a revised list of service providers for the civil servants scheme would be circulated by June 4, 2012 so that members could choose a preferred facility.
Earlier, the Prime Minister emphasised the need for public-private partnerships in provision of healthcare in the country.
Odinga said the public sector could not be relied upon to be the only sole provider of healthcare services.
He said this was the only way to meet the challenges faced in the health sector and attain the Millennium Development Goals.
“We now have a new constitution which says that the right to Medicare is a fundamental human right and that every Kenyan when he or she is sick should have access to quality and affordable Medicare,” the Prime Minister said.
He was speaking at the opening of a new health facility, Medanta AfriCare facility in Nairobi that will offer diagnosis services.
“People are raising money to send patients to India, South Africa, Europe and the USA. This is costing a lot of money and is impoverishing the already poor people,” he said.