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Weekly Newsletter - Issue No 264
13th January - 17th January 2020

Editorial

The Irony of Universal Healthcare in Kenya

The recently released guidelines by the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) on 7th January 2020 provide a bleak picture into the future that envisioned Universal Healthcare Coverage (UHC) in Kenya. One of the changes is the reduction of the waiting period for new members from the current 60 day period to 90 days. There is also a mandatory 1 year upfront payment. For those defaulting on the payments, the changes provide for a penalty of 50% of each monthly contribution paid late for up to 11 months. Where the contributor has defaulted for 12 months, they will be required to start payments afresh and will only be eligible to benefits after 90 days from the date of resumption of payment. They will also pay a 1 year upfront payment. The rationale behind these changes is to marshal the efforts of NHIF towards the achievement of sustainable UHC and to enhance member retention. But is this really so?

Article 43(1) of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 provides that every person has the right to the highest attainable standard of health that includes the right to healthcare services. This is reiterated in the African Charter for Human and People’s Rights under Article 16.

The right to health is crucial to the realization of other fundamental rights and freedoms envisaged by the Constitution. Without it, one cannot be able to fully to enjoy their right to live fully. This right has four key elements that determine whether it can be enjoyed to the fullest. These are availability, accessibility, acceptability and quality. Availability connotes the present functioning public health and healthcare facilities for the use by the public. Accessibility takes different forms; the main ones being non-discrimination, physical accessibility and economic accessibility. Acceptability is with regard to being respectful of culture, minorities, peoples and communities. Quality relates to the scientific and medical appropriateness of the labour, equipment and drugs in the facility.

However, this is not the case as we know it. Almost daily, there are cries and complaints regarding the shortage of drugs in hospitals, shortage of beds in wards leading to even more deadlier cross-infections, lack of proper equipment to either detect or control certain diseases, long lines and wanting customer service to patients seeking assistance in healthcare facilities.

News of the Week

Assault case between Amin and Gedi resumes

The hearing on the assault case filed by Wajir Women Rep Fatuma Gedi against Wajir East MP Rashid Amin resumed yesterday afternoon at the Milimani Law Courts. Among those who took to the stand were the doctor who examined Gedi and the Inspector who took her statement in June 2019. It was only the accused, Amin, that was present at the hearings as Gedi was represented by her lawyers. The hearings are set to resume in March this year.

 

Special Senate to discuss Waititu's fate

Senate Speaker Ken Lusaka has convened a special sitting where the senators will consider an impeachment motion against Kiambu Governor next Tuesday. Also on the agenda will be a consideration for the request to extend the tenure of the Ad Hoc Committee on the multi-billion Managed Equipment Services to counties by the government.
However, the gazette notices dated January 10th raises legal concerns as Section 33 of the County Governments’’ Act clearly gives guidelines on the timelines to consider an impeachment motion by the Senate. The special sitting slated for January 21st will be outside the ten days provided for in law to consider the motion. The impeachment process requires the Senate considers the matter a week after receiving correspondence from a county assembly.

Hon Ochieng calls out those politicizing the BBI process

Ugenya MP Hon David Ochieng challenged Nyanza governors to explain the source of funds they used to organise the BBI summit in Kisii which was attended by ODM leader Raila Odinga, Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i and a host of MPs.

Quote of the Week

"On Kenyans’ health insurance. I am aware of proposed changes in the fees and structure of insurance benefits of the NHIF. Given my administration’s commitment to providing affordable health care, I am directing the Ministry of health to immediately halt the implementation of this proposal to allow for further consultation."

Quote by President Uhuru Kenyatta during his Address to the Nation on January 14th 2020.

Lest we forget

"It is, therefore, very important that we deal with the issue of healthcare financing. The Bill we have drafted, which is currently at the Ministry of Finance for approval because it has financial implications, is a Social Health Insurance Fund which will ensure that the poor and indigent have access to healthcare without costs acting as gatekeepers in public healthcare facilities."

Comments by Kisumu Governor and former Minister for Medical Services Anyang' Nyong'o while issuing a statement on the Ministry's position on herbal medicine practice on August 13th 2009.

Read the Hansard

Newsmaker this Week

Former Agriculture Cabinet Secretary faced the axe in the most recent cabinet reshuffle by President Uhuru Kenyatta and was replaced by Peter Munya who was the CS for Labour. In a press briefing, Kiunjuri stated that he had anticipated the move by the President considering that he had been subject to public humiliation. Critics, however, said that the move was necessary citing the problems that had riddled Agriculture in 2019 that the former CS failed to adequately address.

... PROFILE

Bills before the Senate

First Reading

Public Participation

The Taskforce on Mental Health is inviting views from the public from 13th to 27th January 2020. The public participation can be done through presentations made orally or by submissions of written memoranda in the following manner:

  • Mental health priority issues in respective areas
  • Proposals on practical solutions to the priority mental health issues
  • The level of preparedness to address these mental health issues 

 

The schedule for the public hearings would be as follows:

1. 13th January - Meru - Kamundi Hall
2. 14th January - Makueni - St Joseph Multipurpose Hall
3. 15th January - Eldoret 
4. 16th January - Nakuru - Old Town Hall or Menengai Hall
5. 17th January - Kakamega - Town Hall
6. 20th January - Kisumu - Aga Khan Hall
7. 21st January - Nyeri - YMCA
8. 22nd January - Garissa - Almond Hotel or Lanten
9. 23rd January - Mombasa - Tononoka Hall or KSG
10. 27th January - Nairobi - KICC

All hearings will begin at 9 am. Written memoranda can be submitted to the taskforce secretariat through either email mentalhealthtaskforce1@gmail.com or P.O. Box 30016-00100, Nairobi; or hand-delivered to the Ministry of Health HQ, Afya House, Cathedral Rd, 7th Floor Room 721 to be received on or before 20th January 2020 by 5 pm.

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