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Economy

Kidney crisis ups NHIF dialysis pay to Sh1.7 bn

Kenyatta National Hospital
A patient undergoes dialysis at Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) payouts for dialysis increased by nearly half to Sh1.7 billion in the year to June, highlighting the growing cases of kidney ailments among Kenyans.

The State-backed insurer’s payouts rose from Sh1.24 billion — reflecting a 41 per cent growth.

Its payout for kidney transplants jumped to Sh64.7 million, up from Sh21.7 million a year earlier, underlying the increasing cases of renal ailments.

Official data show that about four million Kenyans have some form of kidney ailment. The disease is often caused by other conditions that put a strain on kidneys.

High blood pressure (hypertension) and diabetes are the most common causes of kidney disease. High blood pressure, for instance, is reported to cause just over a quarter of all cases of kidney failure.

Only two public hospitals — Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) and Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Eldoret — have the capacity to conduct kidney transplants at subsidised rates.

About 8,000 kidney patients were on dialysis at KNH early last year. A session costs Sh5,000. Private hospitals such as MP Shah in Nairobi offer dialysis at Sh9,500 per session under NHIF cover.

Acute kidney patients on dialysis are often referred for transplants. The NHIF pays Sh500,000 for a kidney transplant at private hospitals.

Top hospitals charge about Sh2 million for each transplant outside the NHIF cover, underlining the huge benefits of the government-backed cover, especially for low income households.

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