The National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) has been the week’s talk in news outlets for all the wrong reasons instead of the body leading the Country to achieve the Universal Health Coverage (UHC), it is busy covering its face in shame.
NHIF’s top management has failed Kenyan patients led by its CEO Geoffrey Mwangi and Director of Finance Wilbert Kurgat, if the accusations facing the two are anything to go by. Kenyans have displayed their greed in so many ways and most of those angry that those in power are stealing is only so because it is not them and they do not benefit from the stolen proceeds.
The case of Geoffrey Mwangi and Wilbert Kurgat, who is now out on bail and forced leave, reminds me of the majority of Kenyans who are too scared to fall ill because it is to them a death sentence. The millions who lay on their beds awaiting death because they cannot afford treatment yet in their youth the Government milked them dry through unreasonable taxes and unless you see somebody in that situation, you will never understand why it is personal.
Dennis Omondi, a journalist, succumbed to cancer, before his death, he had been held captive in India for outstanding medical fees. He needed 7.5 million shillings to get treated which he could not raise, I remember tearing as I helplessly watched a video clip of him begging and pleading for help. He was scared of death as we all are but there was nothing he could do as our health systems are rotten. Rotten despite having to succumb to the exploitive taxes our Government has chosen enact.
The ruling Government must leave a legacy to be remembered by but what are the priorities for Kenyans? In the place of Dennis Omondi’s name, place the name of that relative, that neighbor or friend who died helpless begging for funds to be attended to by the Doctors then think of the scandal brewing at NHIF and it is then that you will realize that it is very personal.
The Government continues to adamantly refuse to zero-rate medication, even that of cancer despite large numbers of its citizens succumbing to such illnesses. The same citizens that have to pay taxes have to pay contributions they have no say over to the NHIF which cannot even fully cover them when they most need them.
As I watched Geoffrey Mwangi and his co-accused timidly shy away from the cameras, I thought to myself, if these two are guilty of defrauding a body so crucial to the poor and sick in this country, do they understand the magnitude of their actions?
While our investigative bodies ‘leave no stone unturned’ as they have always been heard to do, it is horrifying enough to imagine a scandal about the managing of money that Kenyans work so had to contribute every month to secure their health and that of their families only to die an undignified death once ill.
It is most frustrating as contributions were hiked significantly just the other day in the name of enhancing the cover for all Kenyans.
The news of a scandal at NHIF is not surprising to Kenyans as the body together with the National Social Security Fund (NSSF), have always been viewed as a cash cow for the corrupt to make quick riches.
If convicted, it will be a shame that a great brain like that of Geoffrey Mwangi, who was once an altar boy at Kamwaura, Molo constituency in Nakuru County could lead in stealing from the sick and vulnerable instead of leading Kenya on championing the Universal Health Coverage (UHC). Geoffrey has been reported to be harboring political ambitions in 2022 to contest for the Governorship of Nakuru County. The ambitions could remain just that, if he is convicted, but then again, Kenyans like to vote in the bad boys and girls and later term as pigs and Hyenas so he might be no exception.