REPUBLIC OF KENYA

One Million Mothers to Benefit from Government Insurance

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NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 29– One million mothers are set to benefit from an insurance cover worth KSh4.2 billion that will enable them to access prenatal and postnatal services like family planning in addition to catering for their newborns’ antenatal care.

The cover, which will be managed by the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF), will become available from July 1 this year as part of a larger government plan towards the provision of Universal Health Coverage.

Health Principal Secretary Dr. Nicholas Muraguri said that the government was committed to the provision of health services to enable women access maternal care without worrying about the financial implications.

“The era of detaining women in hospital after delivery because they are unable to pay their bills is over. Most women deliver at home because health facilities are far or because they cannot afford. We are removing these barriers,” explained the PS on Citizen TV.

“No mother should have to pay to access maternal services.”

About 1.4 million women give birth in Kenya annually and each year there is an increase of about one percent. About 40 percent of deliveries occur at home.

Head of Policy, Planning and Healthcare Financing Department Dr. Peter Kimuu added that the cover would increase the number of women who delivered in health institutions because it would also cater for services received in private facilities that accept government rates.

“The one million who deliver in hospitals will be catered for and perhaps this will encourage those who give birth at home to do so in hospitals,” observed Dr. Kimuu.

He further explained that the cover will be disbursed by NHIF because it had the capacity to verify whether or not services had been used in order to avoid wastage.

“The Fund will be able to improve efficiency in the management and payment of health claims. NHIF will only pay where there is a claim,” he said.

The Ministry of Health is planning to classify maternity healthcare as a basic service to ensure that women do not pay for it directly.

Only 20 percent of Kenyans have medical insurance cover and the government plans to increase this to 60 percent in the next five years by catering for vulnerable groups that have no capacity to pay for themselves.

“One of the biggest barriers towards accessing healthcare is having to pay at the point of service. You either have insurance, pay cash or have the government pay for you,” said Dr. Kimuu.

The government also currently provides health insurance cover for individuals who are classified by the Ministry of Labour, Social Security and Services as poor, elderly or persons with severe disabilities.

There are 4.3 million Kenyans who are classified as indigent and 800,000 people who have been placed under either elderly or persons with severe disabilities.