• Some of the services and entire range of medicines and therapies required for chronic illnesses are not readily available in public health.
• Sitati urged NHIF to consider comprehensive coverage for cancer patients in regards to Universal Healthcare coverage.
Cancer control lobbies have opposed suggestions by the National Hospital Insurance Fund to stop funding treatment of chronic diseases in private hospitals.
The lobbies, the Kenya Network of Cancer Organizations and the Non-Communicable Diseases Alliance of Kenya, said the proposal will increase the likelihood of pre-mature deaths of people living with Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and other chronic conditions in the country.
The regulation stated that NHIF beneficiaries suffering from chronic illnesses such as cancer shall only receive treatment from public health care providers only.
John Gikonyo, who heads the Renal Patients Society of Kenya (RPSKe), expressed his dissatisfaction with the national insurer’s position, stating that public hospitals in Kenya do not have the capacity to be the sole providers of healthcare to the rapidly increasing number of people with NCDs.
“Some of the services and entire range of medicines and therapies required for chronic illnesses are not readily available in public health facilities and where available, the public facilities face supply chain breakdowns and human resource challenges including strikes,” he said.
KENCO said that the proposal will force patients to seek the services in public hospitals which will only increase pressure on the limited public facilities.
The body also stated that patients with chronic conditions who cannot afford to pay for their treatments in private facilities will be forced to either delay, stop seeking services or resort to unproven traditional medicine with poor outcomes.
Charity Muturi, member of the Task Force on Mental Health and NCD Alliance global advisory board member, asked NHIF to clearly define what it meant when it stated that its beneficiaries will only access treatment for chronic illness if contributions are up to date.
“We recommend up to date contribution to mean a contribution to the month preceding the month the service is being sought. Some patients have been asked to pay premiums 2-years in advance before they can access care,” she said.
KENCO Executive director Christine Sitati said that the national insurer limits beneficiaries to sessions and does not cover the entire treatment plan.
“Patients requiring palliative care from stand-alone hospices or through home care visits and long term therapies are left out,” she said
Sitati urged NHIF to consider comprehensive coverage for cancer patients in regards to Universal Healthcare coverage.
NCDA Vice-chair David Makumi said that NCDs account for more than half of hospital admissions and up to two in four total deaths in Kenya.
He urged the national insurer to mitigate the huge cost of care for these diseases.
“NCDs have a considerable economic effect at both national, community and household levels. The cost can be mitigated through NHIF’s social safety net provision,” he said.