NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 8 – Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki is determined to get every Kenyan covered under the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF), but says she will employ a different tactic from those previously used.
The Health Cabinet Secretary says she is focusing on Kenyans working in the informal sector whose majority remains without any form of health insurance, unlike their counterparts in the formal sector.
The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics estimates that there were 6.8 million members in the fund in 2017, up by 11.1 percent from 6.1 million in 2015/16.
KNBS adds that in 2017, the formal sector contributed the bulk of the membership with a share of 56.9 per cent.
“Over the same period, the informal sector membership registered a growth of 17 per cent compared to a 7 per cent rise in the formal sector,” KNBS says.
“The fact that formal employment makes it mandatory for employers to have their workforce covered by NHIF is the reason as to why the number are high in that sector. We are looking into ways such as carrying out intensive sensitization programmes to get more people who work in the informal sector covered,” Kariuki said.
Her ministry has also been partnering with County Governments to get more people signed up under the fund at grassroots levels.
Kariuki says the average Sh6,000 required per family per year is affordable in most households regardless of type of employment. She however notes that consistency in payment of the money varies especially for those in informal employment.
“We’ve seen families who sign up for the cover in case of an illness but opt out when the sick family members get well. These are some of the inconsistencies we hope to deal with through the sensitisation programmes,” Kariuki says.
The Cabinet Secretary also speaks on matters free maternity saying she is confident that it is functional despite recent challenges and urges Mothers to use the NHIF covers when giving birth.
“The government’s stand is that every mother should give birth without being charged in any government hospital,” she says.
Kariuki says the government is investing heavily in equipment that follow the disease patterns.
She says that government is investing in response to increasing burden of cancer, increasing burden of injuries of caused by road accidents and kidney related equipment among others.
“This is why I’m proposing we focus on preventive health care because with such, we will not need to invest so much on curative equipment as we are doing now,” she says.
Below, is an excerpt of the interview with Capital FM: