Why Pregnant Mothers In Kenya Are On Their Own 1

Why Pregnant Mothers In Kenya Are On Their Own

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Kenyan hospitals are threatening to abandon former President Uhuru Kenyatta’s medical programme, Linda Mama that aimed to cushion pregnant mothers. The private hospitals are threatening to bill pregnant mothers unless the Kenyan government settles the outstanding loan of sh3.1 Billion owed to them under the scheme in sixteen days.

As it stands, several public and private hospitals are away from pregnant mothers seeking health services since they lack funds. Health facilities are saying that NHIF has not been remitting millions of cash that is meant for the health services that are required for the health programme. The Rural Hospitals Association of Kenya RUPHA raised the alarm over the insurance fund’s failure to pay for services offered under the health scheme. Dr. Brian Lishenga, Rupha’s executive committee chairman shared that the NHIF Board has not made any payments to health facilities for the Linda Mama health programme since July last year.

The financial crisis has forced health facilities to seek alternative sources of money to ensure that pregnant mothers are not ignored. Public hospital managers revealed that they have not received any financial help for close to twelve months. A senior medic at the Kenyatta National Hospital revealed, “For the last 12 months, we have not received any reimbursements, and yet we are expected to continue operating the scheme. We are forced to seek alternative sources of funds out of fear of being victimised for failing to implement a government project,”

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The Executive Committee has written a letter to the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) Board of Management. They highlighted a breach of agreement and also warned of the dire consequences if they didn’t address the issue promptly.

Dr Lishenga warned the beneficiaries of the Linda Mama scheme to make “top-up cash payments to access health services expected to be effective from March 18 should the insurance fund fail to honour the financial burden. Part of the letter reads, “We wish to bring to your attention a serious matter regarding the NHIF Board of Management’s failure to fulfil its obligations outlined in the Agreement with healthcare providers, specifically clause 12.8 of the contract with providers regarding payments for the Linda Mama Scheme.

“It has come to our attention that as of March 4, 2024, and for the last eight months the Board has failed to make the required payments to health facilities for LINDA MAMA services in strict compliance with the provisions of our Agreement. In addition, a large volume of Linda Mama claims to remain locked in the suspended E-Claims system from 2019. This non-payment of healthcare providers represents a persistent and clear breach of our agreement with NHIF,”

The Linda Mama Scheme which was launched in June 2013 sought to aid pregnant women and infants in having access to free health services a huge step towards achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in Kenya. Cardholders of Linda Mama have experienced problems accessing health services and most facilities have described the programme to be a ‘sham’ since the NHIF failed to pay them.

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