Bishops in Kenya Want National Medical Insurer to Pay Church Hospitals to Avert Crisis

Chairman of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB), Archbishop Philip Anyolo (on mic) flanked by fellow Bishops as he reads a statement at the end of their Ordinary Plenary Assembly in Nairobi, Friday, November 8, 2019
Credit: Samuel Waweru/KCCB

Calls on the national medical insurer in the East African country of Kenya to pay pending claims it owes Church-run hospitals was one of the key issues expressed by the Bishops in Kenya at the Friday, November 8 Press Conference at the end of their four-day Ordinary Plenary Assembly in Nairobi.

“We your shepherds and indeed people of goodwill are deeply concerned about the growing debt of National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) to be paid to our health institutions across the country,” the Bishops in Kenya stated through their Chairman, Archbishop Philip Anyolo.

“In fact, many of our health facilities and other faith-based health facilities have been experiencing a serious crisis of NHIF non-payments to a point where it is difficult to procure medicine and pay salaries,” the Bishops explained.

The National Executive Secretary of the Catholic Health Commission under the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) Jacinta Mutegi, told ACI Africa Friday, November 8 that NHIF owes Catholic health facilities “about 1.9 billion shillings (US$19 million) for 100 Mission Hospitals.”

“We started experiencing delays from September/October 2018 and we have had so many meetings; there are claims processing challenges at NHIF,” Ms. Mutegi said and added, “We are having challenges paying bills, salaries and buying drugs.”

“Even Mission for Essential Drugs and Supplies (MEDS), which is owned by KCCB and from where all our facilities buy their drugs from is having serious cash flow challenges,” Ms. Mutegi continued to explain the magnitude of the challenge around Kenya’s national medical insurer, NHIF.

Among the hospitals that the national insurer owes money, Ms. Mutegi disclosed, include Consolata Hospital Mathari - “180 million Kenya shillings (US$1.8 million)” and Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Mwea - “about 120 million Kenya shillings (US$1.2 million).” 

According to the Catholic Bishops in Kenya, further delay in releasing the funds will “cripple important services and therefore deny our people the health care due to them as a right.”

The Prelates expressed the hope that “a solution will be found as soon as possible”, particularly after their “raising the issue and seeking urgent intervention of the government.”

The Catholic Church in Kenya operates 497 health facilities, with about 160 of these health service units being NHIF-accredited. In May 2019, Catholic hospitals in Kenya protested a delay in the payment of claims by NHIF dating back to 2017.

ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.

Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa
[email protected]