Kenya’s Health Insurance Fund “outrightly crippling our hospitals”: Catholic Bishop

Logo National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) in Kenya. Credit: National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF)

The National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF), Kenya’s parastatal that provides universal health coverage (UHC) to citizens through a medical insurance cover, is dysfunctional and negatively affecting the offering of services in health institutions in the East African nation, including health facilities under the auspices of the Catholic Church, Bishop Norman King’oo Wambua has said.

Speaking during the Diocesan Pilgrimage and Thanksgiving Mass held at the Komarock Shrine in Kenya’s Catholic Diocese of Machakos, his Episcopal See, Bishop King’oo lamented, “I don’t know what happened, but there is no more money.”

“Where is the money? Because as I speak now, as faith leaders in areas where we have hospitals, the debt owed to our institutions by NHIF is worrying. They are outrightly crippling our hospitals,” Bishop Wambua said during February 10 event.

Referring to Bishop Kioko Catholic Hospital, a health facility in his Episcopal See, the Kenyan Catholic Bishop said that the facility is owed some KES.70 million (US$ 540,000.00).

The 72-year-old Bishop, who started his Episcopal Ministry in August 1998 as the Local Ordinary of Kenya’s Bungoma Diocese urged Kenya’s political leadership weigh in on NHIF financial challenges and get funds to health institutions. 


“What will we do? Kindly, you politicians, maybe you can answer where the money went. Tell us where the money went and bring it back so that we can treat our faithful and the others,” Bishop King’oo pleaded.

Last November, Catholic Bishops in Kenya expressed concern about NHIF’s inefficiency. 

Addressing journalists on 10 November 2023 at the end of their Plenary Assembly which was held at St. Mary’s Pastoral Centre in the Diocese of Nakuru, members of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) noted that NHIF was neither running smoothly nor efficiently.

“It is for this reason that we once more raise our concern of the backlog of huge unpaid reimbursements to Mission Health Institutions that support the health provision at the grassroots,” KCCB members said, adding that at the time, debts were threatening the quality of life of Kenyans.

The Catholic Church leaders went on to express their fears about the planned restructuring of NHIF to the Social Health Insurance Fund (SHIF) set to commence operations in March 2024, saying that the hurried implementation of the new scheme without settling the shortfalls of the old scheme will worsen the bad situation in Kenyan health facilities.

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“Among the many Faith Institutions, the Catholic Mission Hospitals are still owed over 1Billion Shillings by NHIF,” KCCB members said, and added, “We are still worried about what may happen after the planned reorganization of NHIF. There should be a clear plan to pay these arrears.”

In his February 10 message, Bishop King’oo described the challenges around NHIF as “a big problem”.

“We have a big problem; we are appealing to you, our leaders; that’s why we elected you, to act as our watchdog and to question how our monies are being spent, yet we pay taxes,” said the Kenyan Catholic Bishop, who has been at the helm of Machakos Diocese since his installation in August 2018.

Silas Mwale Isenjia is a Kenyan journalist with a great zeal and interest for Catholic Church related communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communication from Moi University in Kenya. Silas has vast experience in the Media production industry. He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.