Magoha pushes for Covid-19 insurance cover for learners

Thursday, November 19th, 2020 00:00 |
Class Eight pupils at Kanyamenda Primary School in Kisumu undergo temperature screening when schools partially reopened last month. Photo/PD/File

Education Cabinet Secretary, Prof George Magoha yesterday vowed to push for a medical cover for students who test positive for Covid-19.

The CS said following a decision to offer teachers a medical cover for coronavirus-related illnesses, the ministry will also take a firm position to ensure the government caters for treatment of learners who contract the deadly disease.

“Children come from different backgrounds. If we want to create a gold standard for all of them we need to treat them equally.

We will push for a Covid-19 health insurance for all learners in school,” Magoha said after touring schools in West Pokot and Trans Nzoia counties.

His remarks came a day after Deputy President William Ruto urged the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) to cover all learners once schools reopen in January.

“We commend the Teachers Service Commission for including Covid-19 insurance cover for its members.

NHIF should emulate TSC by extending a similar cover to its members, especially students who are set to resume school.

All available resources should be mobilised to enable NHIF meet this obligation,” said the DP.

Yesterday, the national insurer expressed willingness to pay for all Covid-19 patients, including students, but called for additional funding to facilitate such a programme, saying it does not have sufficient or direct funds from the government to support such a venture.

NHIF Chief Executive Peter Kamunyo said the national insurer can only pay for all Covid-19 patients if there is external funding to support them.

“We have already started implementing a directive by Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe to provide medical cover for health workers. However, for us to meet the demand arising due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we will need an external boost since our internal resources are constrained,” said Kamunyo when he appeared before the National Assembly Health Committee.

On Monday,  TSC announced that tutors will now use their medical insurance to get treatment for coronavirus related illnesses.

TSC Secretary Nancy Macharia said teachers are frontline soldiers in the education sector and have been playing a critical role in managing thousands of learners who had resumed learning.

Important role

“Cognisant of the important role teachers are playing as we grapple with this pandemic, I wish to announce that TSC has negotiated with the teachers’ medical insurance provider, for them to be covered for all Covid-19 related illnesses,” said Dr Macharia.

And yesterday, there were heightened calls to have all learners covered by NHIF given their level of interaction with communities.

The Kenya Primary School Heads Association chairman Nicholas Gathemia said all children in basic education should be put on a cover to cater for not only instances of Covid-19 infection but also other accidents in school.

“The lives of all children are as important as those of teachers. It is important that they are all insured. This is something the government should consider as soon as possible,” said Gathemia.

He stated that primary school children should also be put on NHIF as a matter of urgency, just like their secondary school counterparts, saying all children belong to the same government.

Kenya Private Schools Association Chief Executive Peter Ndoro echoed Gathemia’s sentiments, saying children in public and private schools should be covered for Covid-19.

He, however, said the association is in the process of negotiating for a cover with NHIF and other private insurers for teachers, learners and staff in private schools.

“It is important that we have cover for all especially now that schools are reopening and it may not be possible to achieve social distancing so that just in case Covid-19 strikes, they should be able to get the best medical support,” Ndoro said.

He also noted that there are about 16 million learners in the basic education institutions who interact widely with the community, hence the need to invest in sufficient medical insurance cover.

In April 2018, the Ministry of Education and NHIF entered into a contract to offer a unique comprehensive medical insurance cover for public secondary school students.

The policy, dubbed EduAfya, covers students for the duration of full time study at a public school, all of whom must be in the National Education Management Information System (NEMIS) database as well as registered with NHIF.

Form Four students are exited from the scheme upon completion of Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education exam.

It was, however, not immediately clear whether students who have tested positive for coronavirus, most of whom are in secondary school, have been treated through the cover.

Ministry of Health Acting Director General, Dr Patrick Amoth said in his weekly interactive session on twitter that managing an asymptomatic patient costs Sh21,000 on average per day.

“Mild cases require averagely 21,369 while severe cases average cost is Sh51,684 per day while critical ICU cost Sh71,283per day.  65 per cent of these costs are contributed by Personal ProtectiveEquipment,” said Dr Amoth. Compiled by Irene Githinji,Henry Andanje, Roy Lumbe and David Musundi

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