Governors endorses government plans to run free maternity programme through NHIF

The Council of governors has beaten hasty retreat on their earlier opposition and endorsed government plans to run free maternity programme through the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF).

The governors said under management of NHIF, critical issues such as registration of expectant mothers would be adequately and exhaustively addressed.

In a statement to newsrooms after the council’s two-day meeting in Naivasha, CoG chairman Peter Munya said if their proposal will be adopted, would go a long way in solving complications pregnant women face while seeking services in public hospitals.

“The council has agreed in principle on the insurance cover, pending unbundling of various technical aspects which may undermine the public health sector,” Munya endorsed.

The council explained that if the programme introduced by Jubilee government after assuming office is accomplished by the national insurer, it would ease the burden on expectant mothers.

Munya said the council had entrusted the Health ministry to help actualise the programme and fast-track issuance of insurance cards to expectant mothers.

“The ministry should also ensure county governments’ representation in the NHIF and Kenya Medical Supplies Agency (KEMSA) boards through amendments to the various laws relating to health,” he added.

Last month, the council promised to oppose any attempts by the National government to move Sh4.2 billion free maternity cash to the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF).

In their objection, the governors alleged that reversing the free maternity to the national insurer, is a wider scheme by President Uhuru Kenyatta led government to mutilate devolution.

“Transferring the cash to an insurance scheme comes with legal challenges and we require a discussion between ourselves and the National government. We insist that that the programme continues to run the way it is and the National government to pay for all the dues that has accrued,” the council argued.

Health Principal Secretary Nicholas Muraguri had earlier disclosed to the governors, starting this fiscal year, the state plans to use Sh4 billion meant for free maternity to pay for one year NHIF insurance for pregnant women and those from poor backgrounds; for deliveries in public, faith-based and private hospitals to increase transparency of the programme.

During the meeting, the council also signed a memorandum of understanding with UNICEF on immunisation of children in marginalised areas.

“Under this cooperation, we will increase the percentage of children immunised and improve the reach as well as other areas of mutual benefit,” Munya said.

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