5 May 2012

Kenya: Disturbing Developments at the NHIF

Medical Services Minister Professor Anyang Nyong'o has reinstated the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) board barely a day after the acting ... ( Resource: Kenya: Hospital Insurance Fund Board Reinstated


In every country - whether poor or rich - one of the most crucial obligations that the government has, is to provide affordable health care for all its citizens. This necessarily evolves into a situation in which one of the largest pots of money under one institution within a country, will be the government-mandated fund for health insurance. And in a country without checks and balances, this pot of money will be the greatest source of temptation for those in power.

It follows then, that those chosen to lead such an institution have to be men and women who combine the highest possible world-class managerial skills, with the highest personal integrity. Nothing else will do when so much money is at stake; and nothing else will do, when what is under consideration is literally a life and death matter for millions of citizens.

In short, the management of our National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) should be a showcase of exemplary management. In these circumstances, the fact that a comedy of the kind we witnessed on Thursday this week, could play out in broad daylight with the massed cameras of the media recording every second of it, is a national shame.

First the chairman of the NHIF board, Dr Richard Muga announces the suspension of the CEO. Then Dr Muga is opposed in this decision by his vice chair. Then it is said that no changes have been made at all. But finally it is Dr Muga who is dismissed, and the CEO, Richard Kerich, is to remain in office.

It is the kind of drama which not even the most extravagantly creative playwright could have dared conceive of, as taking place just when there is to be a massive increase in the compulsory NHIF monthly payments.

Yet there it was on the evening news. It seems to confirm the worse fears of those like the trade union leader, Francis Atwoli, who have all along maintained that the scheme to have the monthly NHIF contributions increased, is really nothing but a massive fraud, designed to raise money for the general elections.

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