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Lobby backs calls to amend NHIF law, focus it on poor

George Kebaso @Morarak

Shortage of medical personnel, nurses and commodities to a large extent are affecting delivery of proper primary health care at village facilities.

This is contributing to the death of poor Kenyans from conditions that are preventable, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have said. Members of the CSOs say Tuberculosis, for instance, is killing people who could have survived.

Their concerns stem from reports that two TB patients succumbed to the disease last month in Makueni County Referral Hospital under circumstances that could have been avoided.

One of them died waiting for a GeneXpert machine to determine the type of TB they were experiencing, while the other patient succumbed as a result of drugs shortage.

Kenya Aids NGOs Consortium (Kanco) campaigns manager Rehab Mwaniki (pictured) said it is regrettable that Kenyans were dying from preventable and curable diseases.

“There is no need for a single Kenyan to die of any preventable disease. TB for instance should be diagnosed and treated at primary care Level One, Two and even up to Three county health facilities. At the CSO level, we are recommending that the government ensure it supports a minimum, basic cover for health for all Kenyans’ initiative,” she said.

She said this can be addressed by sealing gaps in the National Hospital Insurance Fund (Nhif) Act.

“For Nhif to work effectively for all Kenyans, the government should ensure that basic care is provided, and in reference to the planned roll-out of Universal Healthcare Coverage (UHC), TB is one of those health conditions that need early detection and treatment.

But this cannot be achieved if we are still relying on obsolete Act,” she said adding that CSOs are supporting calls for amendment of the Nhif Act. The Act should be reviewed to facilitate provision of funds to cater for the poor and vulnerable, she said.

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