By Kenya Confidential Public Health Desk, Nairobi – April 22, 2021
A witness for President Uhuru Kenyatta at The Hague International Criminal Court and former Assistant Minister Lewis Nguyai has been rewarded with a plimp job as the board chairman of the National Hospital Insurance (NHIF) – a move that has been challenged has been petitioned as irregular. The man gave more incriminating avidence against Uhuru than it was defensive.
A petition by Kirinyaga politician Josiah Murigu avers that the position Nguyai has assumed is subject to the constitutional provisions applicable to the public service which falls under the Public Service Commission (PSC) Article 233 of the Constitution and mandates the PSC to establish and abolish offices in the public service, appoint persons to hold or act in the said offices, NHIF being amongst them.
Murigu avers that the reason why the Commission is mandated to appoint persons seeking to serve in such offices is to ensure that the said State officers appointed to such offices have met the national values and principles espoused under Articles 10 of the Constitution which includes transparency, accountability and Article 232 (1) which deals with values and principles in the public service namely, high standards of professional ethics , transparency, efficient and effective use of resources, accountability of public resources amongst other principles.”
Murigu states, “However, I, as an informed citizen will not let that happen because I have the benefit of hindsight of the said Nguyai leadership history,” read the petition objecting to the appointment.
He adds, previously, Nguyai was the Chief Executive Officer of an insurance firm, Mediplus Health Services. Under his leadership, the firm was sued for payment of medical services by The Aga Khan University amounting to Kshs.18, 000,000. A summary judgment was entered against the said insurance and Nguyai. On 28″ May, 2007, Nguyai guaranteed in writing that he would pay the said Kshs. 18,000,000 and subsequently gave a cheque of Sh5, 000,000. The Kshs. 5,000,000 was dishonoured as Nguyai’s bank account had been closed.”
The petition against Nguyai’s appointment comes at a time the Senate has initiated process to probe the board of the State insurer over recruitment of its Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Peter Kamunyo Gathege. Through the clerk Jeremiah Nyegenye, a petitioner, Alexander Irungu Wanjiru asked the House to investigate the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) board for acting in breach of the law.
According to Irungu, the recruitment of the agency’s boss and subsequent appointment in April 2020 should be revoked.
“On March 20, 2020, the NHIF board held a special meeting on the recruitment of the CEO. It handpicked and appointed Dr Gathege as the new CEO without subjecting the appointment though a competitive process,” said Irungu in a petition read in the House by Speaker Ken Lusaka.
In February this year, Uhuru appointed Nguyai through a special gazette notice dated February 23, 2021 to take over from Hannah Muriithi who has been at the helm of the board since April 2018. The changes at NHIF come at a time when the fund is implementing the Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
The government rolled out the UHC pilot programme in Machakos, Isiolo, Kisumu and Nyeri counties in 2018 and the regions have provided insights into what our national UHC programme will look like. The pilot Program dubbed Afya Care – Wema Wa Mkenya- is aimed at enabling Kenyans to access affordable healthcare without financial hardship.
The project is based on the principle that all individuals and communities should have access to quality, essential health services without suffering financial hardship. According to the programme, the next steps in the UHC include increasing the uptake and utilisation of community health volunteers (CHVs) services, investing in the standardisation of diagnostics and prioritising the National Integrated Identity Management System (NIIMS) programme for biometric registration of patients.
Others include strengthening the monitoring of health facilities under the UHC pilot phase, strengthening health systems in the 43 non-pilot counties and ensuring efficient and appropriate use of health funds.