A 2015 Ministry of Health Policy Brief acknowledged that in Kenya, 3 out of 10 sick Kenyans do not seek health care when they are ill with high cost of services being one of the major barriers that accounted for up to 21 percent of those who did not seek care in 2013.
It added that a further, 2.6 million Kenyans (6.2 percent) of households were at risk of impoverishment as a consequence of expenditure on health care depleting household savings and were at a risk of falling into poverty.
It is no wonder that the term Black Tax was conceived, to partly describe how Africans and Kenyans specifically spend a considerable amount of their salaries and earnings in supporting friends and relatives. Today, no Kenyan of working age has not seen, been requested or hasn’t contributed to support a friend, relative or stranger in need with a thing or two.
One of the dire things that makes life unbearable is healthcare. It is often stated that in Kenya, middle class is a mirage as you are one patient away from learning the hard truth.
According to the Kenya Health Policy 2012 – 2030, the goal is ‘attaining the highest possible standard of health in a manner responsive to the needs of the population.’ This is to be achieved through supporting provision of equitable, affordable and quality health and related services at the highest attainable standards to all Kenyans.
It is designed to take the country beyond the current health services approach towards a focus on health, using a primary healthcare approach which remains the most efficient and cost-effective way to organize a health system.
As the country discusses universal health care, the current mechanisms through the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) has been boosted to provide for more ailments and beneficiaries in order to support a broader population.
In March this year while appearing before the Health Committee of the National Assembly, Health Principal Secretary Susan Mochache said that while premium contributions have increased three-fold, benefit payouts have increased five-fold over the same period, meaning growth in benefit payouts has outpaced growth in premium contributions.
One reason for the failure to match benefit payouts to premium contributions is the struggling economy that is squeezing everything from Kenyans.
One reprieve that Kenyans can tap into especially in this COVID-19 pandemic period is the Bonga For Good initiative by Safaricom that is allowing people to redeem their Bonga Points to cater for various expenses.
By dialing *126# and selecting Lipa na Bonga, you can comfortably contribute to your NHIF, thereby ensuring that you can use it the moment you need to at a health facility.