The Star (Nairobi)

25 May 2012

Kenya: KMA Wants Medical PS Ngari Suspended Over NHIF Scam

THE Kenya Medical Association is calling on the government to suspend Medical Services PS Mary Ngari and other officials behind the National Hospital Insurance Fund saga.

KMA is further asking the government to reconstitute the current caretaker management board to conform to the requirements of the NHIF Act of 1998. This, KMA argues, will help avoid conflict of interest during investigations into the alleged embezzlement of public funds by the management, which has since been suspended. "We are constrained to point out that the current composition of the board is inconsistent with legal provisions," KMA chairman, Elly Nyaim said, and cautioned that the action could lead to a conflict with the law.

While addressing a press conference at his office in Nairobi, Nyaim said the association was keenly monitoring events at NHIF since the dissolution of the board and the subsequent appointment of the caretaker board. The government moved in with speed and suspended the entire management board and the Fund's CEO, Richard Kerich following extended boardroom wrangles.

Nyaim expressed concern that major players in the previous board, including government appointees, were still serving in the current one, saying they were bound to affect the outcome of the investigations. "We feel that no credible investigations can be carried out by an improper constituted board that includes individuals who were present when the alleged misdeeds were carried out," he said.

More shocking details about underhand operations at the firm continue to be exposed, with the latest one revealing that a whooping sh900 million had been wired to a foreign bank account in Jersey, United Kingdom. While hailing the government's prompt decision to delve into the matter, Nyaim said that the state overlooked statutory provisions as provided for in the Act.

The Act reads in part, that there is no provision under the NHIF Act of 1998 for a caretaker board consisting of members other than those duly appointed under the Act. "We urge that the NHIF board of management be immediately reconstituted to conform to the requirements of the Act," Nyaim said. He called for review to ensure that the Act conforms to the current constitution, "in order to reform the organization into a well-run, properly regulated 21st century health insurance provider."

KMA further called for the inclusion of its representative to the board in a bid to ensure professional input from doctors. "And that in case any union is to be represented on the NHIF board, the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union be among the first to be recognized," he said.

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