Government unveils taskforce to spearhead NHIF reforms

Health CS Sicily Kariuki with a section of NHIF reforms team in Nairobi on February 26, 2019/ MAGDALINE SAYA
Health CS Sicily Kariuki with a section of NHIF reforms team in Nairobi on February 26, 2019/ MAGDALINE SAYA

Health Ministry CS Sicily Kariuki on Tuesday unveiled a team of experts to spearhead radical reforms at the National Hospital Insurance Fund.

The 14 member team will be chaired by James Wambugu and is expected to deliver in the next 90 days.

Wambugu has been the Group Managing Director, General Insurance at UAP-Old Mutual Group for nine years until July last year.

According to the CS, President Uhuru Kenyatta directed the strengthening and reform of NHIF and the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority as one of the ways of attaining Universal Health Coverage agenda.

"The NHIF reforms will be closely monitored, coordinated and driven concurrently with other key and ongoing service delivery-oriented reforms," Kariuki said.

The team has been tasked with doing an analysis of the financial sustainability of the NHIF, legal and regulatory reforms, working on organisational and business process re-engineering reforms towards re-positioning NHIF as a national social health insurance provider and ensuring accountability and transparency in the national insurer.

"The identification and inauguration of an independent expert panel is a key intervention and step towards the transformation of NHIF," Kariuki said.

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The panel consists of experts drawn from key health sector stakeholders.

In his acceptance speech, Wambugu promised to bring everyone on board for effective delivery of results.

"We will do our best to define the future many Kenyans have hoped for. Providing better healthcare is not a choice and we are determined to achieve the mandate of the task force," Wambugu said.

Other members include DMS Jackson Kioko, Nicodemus Odongo, Gilda Odera, Jane Chuma, Joyce Wanderi, Edward Barasa, Daniel Kibuga, Jacqueline Mogeni, Edward Rukwaro, Edward Gatu, Thomas Maina, Samuel Mwendwa, Godfrey Kiptum, Cynthia Charchi, Stephen Kaboro and a CECs representative.

The move comes even as the national insurer has been placed in the radar over misappropriation of funds, the latest being Kenyans could have lost more than Sh10 billion in false medical claims.

The investigations are focusing on reports that some rogue NHIF officials might have colluded with hospitals to generate false medical bills for workers who had never sought treatment.

Former chief executive Geoffrey Mwangi and the acting finance director Wilbert Kurgat were sent on compulsory leave pending the court's decision on their case.

Mwangi and Kurgat have been charged with conspiracy to defeat justice and disobedience of a lawful order in relation to investigations into the loss of Sh2 billion at NHIF last year.

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