Speech by Bro. Atwoli at the Opening of the Joint Retreat of NHIF and COTU-K Leadership
The Chief Executive Officer, NHIF Bro. Geoffrey Mwangi
NHIF Top Management Staff Present
The Chairman General, COTU (K) Bro. Rajabu Mwondi, MBS
The Treasurer General, COTU (K) Sis. Rebecca Nyathogora
COTU (K) Executive Board Members and General Secretaries of our Affiliates Present
Brothers and Sisters
It is my pleasure to join you at this joint retreat between NHIF and COTU (K) being a follow-up to our earlier three similar retreats foremost at the Mombasa Serena Hotel on 10th -11th September, 2014 and the two consecutive ones on 26th -28th August, 2015 and 2nd -4th February, 2016 here at the Great Rift Valley Lodge.
Prior to the issuance of the legal Notice Nos. 107 and 108 of 2nd July 2010, the NHIF top Management led by the then Chief Executive Officer Mr. Richard Kerich indicated to COTU (K) in the month of May 2010 that they were to engage us on the need to increase our members’ contributions to the NHIF on the understanding that wider consultations that were to involve the COTU (K) Executive Board and our entire membership would be put in place;
only to see the gazettement of the legal notice for Kshs 1000-2000 being announced without workers consent and involvement.
COTU (K) opposed this move and stood firm demanding that prior to any adjustments to our contributions to the NHIF, the necessary infrastructure should be put in place to guarantee workers that when they visit our hospitals or designated health centres, they will be attended to promptly.
Among others workers should be assured that there will be a fully-equipped wing in every health facility run by the government that will be readily available to cater for all the NHIF contributing members and this should be rolled down all over the country so that not a single worker contributing to NHIF will be turned away for any reason.
Further, it was COTU (K)’s view after our economic and management research on NHIF that NHIF lacked the capacity to handled such huge funds coming as a result of enhanced rates and there was need to institute a number of reforms at the fund for workers to have the much needed confidence that their contributions will be spend prudently and to the benefit of our members and this informed the resultant court battles throwing the whole process into a stalemate then.
At the same time, the provision of universal health care to the entire Kenyan population could not be left solely to the workers and contributors to the fund particularly in view of the current harsh economic realities amid growing inflation and it would only be prudent that the National government bears and sets aside a budgetary allocation towards the provision of universal healthcare by the NHIF, and in the absence of such measures, the NHIF will remain exclusively to the contributing members.
However,the Bill of Rights in the Constitution of Kenya, 2010 identifies access to quality healthcare as a fundamental right and The Constitution obliges the government to provide quality healthcare to all citizens.
Indeed given the Constitutional requirement and Kenya’s long-term development aspiration, a sustainable strategy is required for better and affordable health care provision.
This underscores the need for the NHIF to play a major role in the pooling of the resources and for Social Health Insurance to be guaranteed, the Kenya government must take a leading role.
Today, at least 12 Million workers within the informal sector are yet to be registered with NHIF and only 4 Million out of the 6 Million registered ones are consistent in their contributions hence begging the question how do these millions of Kenyans meet their medical costs?
However, we are glad that the NHIF has continued to enhance its services including the introduction of new packages for chronic ailments and these developments will no doubt attract additional membership to the NHIF.
To this end Brothers and Sisters, our last year Februaryretreat at this venue sought the parties’ engagement in among others five critical areas of alternative or/and increase to the current Capitation System, enhancement of the inpatient rebates, introduction of additional benefits, pegging deductions on employee’s basic pay and lobbying government to increase its current contributions to NHIF with respect to the poor and vulnerable members of our society.
These are the issues among others that we will be eagerly awaiting NHIF top management response and by the close of this retreat tomorrow, we should be able to face our members with answers.
I thank you and declare this retreat officially opened.
Bro. Francis Atwoli, NOM (DZA), EBS, MBS