What you need to know:
President Uhuru Kenyatta has less than two years to finish his two non-renewable terms
Kenyans need to know that if the government isn’t interested anymore in running a public health insurance scheme so that we stop starving our children to pay the monthly subscription.
It’s now official: We Kenyans are on our own. This revelation came this week from the Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe, in an interview that saw him develop a runny mouth, irregular hand movement and loss of appetite in knowing how vaccines work.
You would have expected a health minister’s primary role to be that of spelling out government policy that promotes public health, but when one says the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) was not going to cover any Covid-related medical bills, you wonder why they should still be allowed to speak from both sides of their mouth, without dropping their daily bread.
It shouldn’t be lost on Kenyans that barely two weeks ago, the President was in Mombasa launching the biometric registration for the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) scheme, which he said would be under the management of the NHIF. During the event, the President made it clear that the event was tied to his Big Four agenda , including UHC where every person, regardless of their financial status, would get quality healthcare anywhere in this country, at an affordable price.
We now know that we should rather have saved the money used to organise that grand occasion and converted it into a bursary fund to enable some people to go for tuition on the workings of vaccines.
From his resultant clarification thereafter, it seems the Health CS still hasn’t grasped the import of his statement. On the one hand, his ministry wants to lift poor Kenyans out of poverty by providing universal health coverage, while on the other he is telling poor Kenyans that if Covid-19 attacks them they’d rather not call the NHIF, as they are on their own.
This is the same government that has set aside funds to discuss changes to the Constitution, to buy used diesel engines from Europe to pollute our fragile environment, to buy medical supplies at inflated prices, but when it comes to providing emergency healthcare for Covid-19 patients running out of breath, we have no money.
President Uhuru Kenyatta has less than two years to finish his two non-renewable terms. He has made it clear that his success as a president will be measured by the achievement of the Big Four agenda, one of which is UHC.
Two years isn’t a long time to keep blowing hot and cold on government policy. It isn’t a long time either to keep appointing health ministers who are more worried about the jokes they would crack at press conferences than their knowledge of public health matters.
This is a country where government promises don’t mean anything to those who make them. They have no qualms playing with poor people’s health because they can afford the latest state-of-the-art treatment underwritten by the taxpayers.
It is regrettable that the social contract between the suffering poor and the Ministry of Health should come to this acrimonious divorce. Kenyans had hoped that they would see other divorces happen sooner — like that of the President and his deputy — but politicians have been closing ranks by partitioning offices for themselves and leaving the suffering poor to scramble for wheelbarrows and empty speeches.
Kenyans need to know that if the government isn’t interested anymore in running a public health insurance scheme so that we stop starving our children to pay the monthly subscription. During this pandemic, we would rather spend the little we have buying food, which will boost our immunity, than pay for NHIF, which will give the Minister for Health the powers to kill us with bad news.