KENYA: Release NHIF Cash to Mission Health Institutions, Catholic Bishops Appeal to Government

By Paschal Norbert

NAKURU, NOVEMBER 10, 2023 (CISA) “The issue of NHIF reimbursements by the government to our institutions of health is a serious matter. We have raised it to the government several times. Currently, many of our hospitals and health facilities are literally wobbling and some are even limping,” decried Archbishop Maurice Muhatia Makumba, the vice-chairperson of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB).

Speaking at a press conference on November 10, at the end of the Catholic Bishops’ week-long plenary held at St. Mary Pastoral Center in the Catholic Diocese of Nakuru, Archbishop Muhatia said that most of the Church healthcare institutions, which offer their services to people from low-income households and in remote regions, are struggling to operate.

“It is for this reason that we once more raise our concern of the back-log of huge unpaid reimbursements to Mission Heath Institutions that support the health provision at the grassroots,” the Catholic Bishops said, adding “For example, among the many Faith Institutions, the Catholic Mission Hospitals are still owed over 1 Billion Shillings by NHIF. We are still worried about what may happen after the planned reorganization of NHIF.”

“We pray hard that this money is going to be paid. We don’t want to contemplate the worst because we provide healthcare at the grassroots even where we don’t have government institutions,” said the Archbishop of Kisumu.

He reiterated, “Our people, our staff are there. We really appeal to the government and NHIF to make sure this money is paid to our facilities because it means life and death to many people in Kenya.”

According to local news reports, many hospitals are still waiting for their dues to be paid from the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF). A situation that is proving to be unsustainable for the majority of private hospitals.

In an interview with the Sunday Nation in April, Dr Timothy Olweny, the Secretary General of the Kenya Association of Private Hospitals, said “Most of the hospitals are in debt and the only way they will continue giving quality healthcare to their clients and NHIF members is that monies have to be released.”

The Catholic Church runs close to 30% of all healthcare facilities in Kenya. According to data from the Catholic Health Commission of Kenya, the Church has an expansive network that consists of 451 health units: 69 hospitals, 117 health centres, 14 Medical Training Colleges and 251 Dispensaries.

The Church also runs more than 46 Community-Based Health and Orphaned and Vulnerable Children (OVC) Programs.