15,869 C-section claims rise signals free maternity cover burden


NHIF Building in Upper Hill, Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

An additional 15,869 caesarean-section births were recorded under the Linda Mama Programme in the year to June, highlighting the burden of the surgery on the free health insurance cover targeting pregnant women.

Data from the Ministry of Health (MoH) shows 80,393 c-section -a surgical operation to help deliver a baby— were performed in the review period, compared to the 64,523 recorded in the year to June 2020.

This pushed the total payout for C-section by the National Health insurance Fund (NHIF) to Sh712.1 million compared to Sh482.6 million paid the previous year and Sh198.6 million in the year to June 2018.

“Great progress has been made with the percentage of deliveries conducted under skilled attendance increasing from 62 percent in 2013/2014 to 84 percent in the year to June 2021,” Health Principal Secretary Susan Mochache told the National Assembly committee on Health.

Payouts for deliveries through C-section accounted for 23.3 percent of the Sh3.04 billion paid in the year to June 2021 compared to 18 percent of the Sh2.6 billion spent the previous year.

Under the “Linda Mama, Boresha Jamii programme,” all pregnant women who register for the NHIF cover can access antenatal, delivery, postnatal care and one-year child care in all NHIF- accredited facilities.

President Uhuru Kenyatta unveiled the free maternity scheme in October 2016 to encourage women to seek maternity services before and after delivery, as one of the ways of bringing down maternal mortality in Kenya.

“More effort continues to be put to ensure we achieve 100 percent skilled deliveries and improve quality of care for maternal and new-born health with the aim of eliminating preventable maternal health by 2020,” said Ms Mochache.

Under the Linda Mama programme, the government pays an annual premium of Sh6,000 per mother. Mothers can opt to make Sh500 monthly contribution to benefit from a comprehensive cover.

Total payouts for the programme claims by the NHIF by July 2021 was Sh3 billion bringing the cumulative total payout to Sh11.4 since the program unveiled.