Protect schools medical insurance from graft

The National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) in this picture taken on Tuesday, October 26, 2021. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NMG

It is disturbing that a fresh boardroom war has erupted at the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF).

The wrangling not only undermines the implementation of the medical insurance for public secondary school students, but it also has implications for the rollout of the government's universal health coverage (UHC) programme.

The Comprehensive Secondary School Students Medical Scheme, popularly known as EduAfya, was unveiled during former President Uhuru Kenyatta’s second term in office and was part of the Jubilee Administration's Big Four agenda to enable access to affordable healthcare by all Kenyans.

As the public health insurer, the NHIF is a key plank of the UHC plan. The turf wars between the chief executive officer and the board chair mirror the integrity issues that have in the past raised concerns about the institution's ability to play the important role assigned to it in Kenya's healthcare system.

An internal audit of the scheme reportedly unearthed irregularities that led to the revocation of contracts for some 17 healthcare providers to the EduAfya scheme.

The scheme controls more than Sh4 billion every year with the taxpayer paying premiums of Sh1,350 per student in public schools to allow them access outpatient, dental, inpatient, optical, emergency, road rescue and overseas treatment.

Given the public interest in the matter, the Education ministry should order an independent audit of the scheme,punish any officials found culpable and put in place mechanisms to protect it from corruption.

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