NHIF: DISCRIMINATION BASED ON EMPLOYMENT

It is a dark month for the family, friends and constituents of Bob Collymore, Hon. Ken Okoth and H.E. (Dr.) Joyce Laboso. However, we that have been left behind living with cancer, taking care of family members living with cancer and those so afraid to go for screening…are most afraid of what these departures portend for us. This notwithstanding the fact that many Kenyans have departed thanks to Cancer but this has gone unnoticed.

There have been calls to declare cancer a “National Disaster”. Granted, this is important but so is having policies that solidly address the underlying causes of cancer. My concern today is the double standard perpetuated by NHIF.

Today I decided to walk with the lady that helps me with household chores-I have never grasped the house manager concept. In her hand was the doctor’s direction for endoscopy and biopsy and in her other hand, she duly paid up NHIF card. She was greatly tormented with what the tests would point to-least of her worries was how she would pay for the tests. She figured her NHIF card would sort it out. Not so!

Six hospitals turned her away, Kijabe Hospital, Coptic Hospital, St. Francis Kasarani, Radiant, Kiambu and Kenyatta hospital. She was turned down because she is not a civil servant. She now worries over not just what the test would reveal but how to pay for the tests. What does the NHIF card actually provide, are we holding onto a piece of paper that provides us with no services!

NHIF has a specific amount to be paid by those in the formal and informal sector, why the double standards? How many Kenyans that pay tax is formally employed? Does the Government use its own statistics for planning? Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that 83.6% of the Kenyan population is in the informal sector. Does this mean that the 83.6% contribute tax but at the point of redistributing it in the form of health services, we shove the civil servant card right in their faces?

You cannot trade health as good in the market. Why is cancer screening only for civil servants but inpatient for all …r we keen on preventive or curative. Our policies are market and not people-centred.

What occupies the time of the Senate and the National Assembly health Committees if not such discussions? Our leaders must step up and do what is right. I do not expect any member of the health committee at the Senate or National Assembly to condole with H.E. (Dr.) Joyce Laboso or Hon. Okoth. It would be criminal to do this-you killed them and will continue to kill all of us since you have abdicated your key roles. I expect them not to start with any policy or law but to call the NHIF CEO and demand that NHIF cover all citizens for screening irrespective of their employment status. I greatly support the calls for KEBS and other regulatory authorities to work. My point of reference is the Kenya Constitution at Article 27(1)(4):

(1)  Every person is equal before the law and has the right to equal protection and equal benefit of the law.

(4)  The State shall not discriminate directly or indirectly against any person on any ground, including race, sex, pregnancy, marital status, health status, ethnic or social origin, colour, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, dress, language or birth.