Mr James Wambugu, who worked as UAP Holdings managing director, says the committee is set to chart a new road towards universal healthcare. Photo / BD

The journey to transform and reposition the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) towards providing Universal Health Coverage (UHC) has begun.  An independent panel of experts was inaugurated on 26th February, the first major step in making NHIF more efficient, transparent and accountable.

This transformation will be led by the committee’s chairman, Mr James Wambugu, a former insurance manager. Mr Wambugu, who worked as UAP Holdings managing director for 10 years,  said the committee would define a new future that many Kenyans have hoped for.

Mr Wambugu was the MD in charge of UAP’s general insurance business until July 2018 when he quit to pursue other interests. He sits on the board of diaspora-backed investment firm FEP Holdings and serves as an executive director for UAP Insurance Uganda.

Other members in the committee are Dr Jackson Kioko, Nicodemus Odongo, Gilda Odera, Jane Chuma, Joyce Wanderi, Edward Barasa, Daniel Kibuga and Jacqueline Mogeni. Others include CECs Representative, Edward Rukwaro, Sheila Gatu, Thomas Maina, Dr Samuel Mwendwa, Godfrey Kiptum while Cynthia Charchi and Stephen Kaboro will be joint secretaries. The members have various experience in institutional transformation and health financing reforms.

Reforms in the health sector include strengthening quality assurance and accreditation mechanisms.

“Providing universal health coverage is not a matter of choice and if we all want a healthy population, the government has to come in as it is their responsibility,” Mr Wambugu said.

Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki said the experts, drawn from key Health service providers, are expected to develop an action plan to turn NHIF into a strategic purchaser of health services in implementing UHC.

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“This, they will have to implement in the short, medium and long term with focus primarily on, legal and regulatory reforms, organizational and business process re-engineering reforms, fiscal and social accountability and financial sustainability,” she said.

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Ms Kariuki noted that the panel was expected to meet its deliverables within the next 90 days. “The government is committed to providing strategic stewardship in this reform journey, and we engage with all the stakeholders so as to ensure that the reform process attains the highest possible level of public participation and that we attain the Government’s agenda on Universal Health Coverage,” the CS affirmed

Ms Kariuki said that all Kenyans envisioned a more efficient, socially accountable and a transparent NHIF.

Reforms in the health sector include strengthening quality assurance and accreditation mechanisms, enhancing efficiency in utilization of resources, strengthening pharmaceutical practices and regulatory systems and improvement of national and county health financing system and governance mechanisms.

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The Ministry of Health and the NHIF Board are transforming NHIF in line with the President Kenyatta’s directive when he launched the UHC Pilot Programs on December 13, 2018. President Kenyatta also directed the strengthening and reform of the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) and the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (KEMSA).

Universal health coverage in Kenya is geared at providing equal access to quality health care services for all Kenyans and answer to the global concern that no family should be forced into poverty because of burdensome and catastrophic health expenses and NHIF is a key player in country’s journey towards this goal.

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