Health workers medical cover funds to be ready in January
George Kebaso @Morarak
Over Sh500 million allocated for a comprehensive medical cover for health workers through the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) will now be released to counties in January next year.
The disclosure follows a resolution passed in a meeting between lawmakers, top officials from the National Treasury and Ministry of Health (MOH) yesterday that the funds be sent to counties by January 20 next year.
During the meeting, the officials also agreed on a raft of other measures that will see demands by health workers in the country achieved.
The resolutions were agreed upon after a stormy four-hour meeting that also saw Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru and Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) maintain hardline positions on the plight of doctors.
However, Cherang’any Member of Parliament, Joshua Kuttuny and Narok Senator, Ledama ole Kina pleaded with the health workers not to go on strike.
“It is an issue of give and take. The National Treasury has told us that it is going to remit the Sh520 million in seven days, and the MOH has confirmed that the transfer of this amount will be done in two days to the NHIF upon receipt of the money from treasury around Dec 19, 2020,” Kuttuny said.
The NHIF made a commitment to update the covers for the medical staff, and avail it by January 20, 2021, upon receiving the money from the MoH.
“The MoH has also confirmed to us here that the reusable face masks are going to be distributed to all public schools and vulnerable groups by December 31, 2020, while, the NHIF has also verified to us that within seven days they are going to compute the cost of putting all contract staff in isolation under Grouplife Cover,” Kuttuny added.
The Chief Administrative Secretary, Mercy Mwangangi said all medical bills accrued by staff in public hospitals will be waived.
National Treasury Principal Secretary, Julius Muia; NHIF Chief Executive Officer, Peter Kamunyo and a commissioner with Salaries Remuneration Commission (SRC) Amina Abdalla also appeared before the two Committees.
Earlier, Treasury and MoH differed on who is to blame for the delay in the release the money to the counties, despite being appropriated by Parliament through a supplementary budget in April.
Muia accused the MoH of not utilising that amount despite Treasury releasing it, an accusation Mwangangi disputed.
“Any appropriation that was not spent at the end of a Financial Year lapses. The MoH did not spend the money despite Treasury releasing the money, and since there was no requisition, the money was not factored in the current FY,” Muia said.
However, Mwangangi countered saying that the Ministry couldn’t access the money since it was sent too late at the closure of the Financial Year 2019/2020.
“Actually that money was sent at the end of June. Even the Integrated Financial Management System had closed,” she told the two committees.
KMPDU Secretary General, Dr. Chibanzi Mwachonda however couldn’t commit on whether the doctors will scrap the strike notice.
The meeting came on the day Amani National Congress (ANC) Party Leader Musalia Mudavadi lashed out at the National Government for turning a deaf ear to the plight of medical workers who are facing the risk of the increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases.
Mudavadi said the health workers are at frontline warriors and their plight should considered to avoid plunging the country’s health sector into a crisis.
“We cannot have a government where leaders are just giving empty promises to the frontline worker,” said Mudavadi.