Wed 24th February 2010
By SAMMY CHEBOI
Poor Kenyans’ access to health care is to be made easier once a planned universal insurance scheme is launched.
A proposal to transform the National Hospital Insurance Fund into a National Social Health Insurance Scheme for outpatient treatment has been accepted by the National Economic and Social Council. It could be effected within four months. The national insurance fund is currently carrying out pilot tests of out-patient treatment coverage in Nairobi and Mumias and the results are promising, according to Medical Services minister Anyang’ Nyong’o.
“Social health insurance will be a reality by mid this year,” Prof Nyong’o said on Tuesday, adding that an economic and social council retreat in Naivasha a fortnight ago had endorsed the proposed transformation of public health insurance. “What remains is for us, through the Office of the Prime Minister, to take the proposal to the Cabinet. The details of finances will be worked out later,” he said.
The minister was speaking at a city hotel during the launch of the Kenya National Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics Reference Manual and the first locally manufactured ready to use therapeutic food. Insta Products Limited, based at the Athi River Export Processing Zone, has developed a number of products to help boost the fight against malnutrition in children.
One such product is peanut-based Valid Nutrition, an energy dense, high protein therapeutic food that has been used predominantly for treating severe malnutrition in children and acute malnutrition in HIV-positive adults.
Malnutrition causes devastation in developing countries. Globally, it is responsible for 3.5 million child deaths and over 20 per cent of maternal mortality annually. Currently, the national insurance fund only covers in-patient treatment costs, locking out millions of Kenyans who visit public and private health facilities.