Kenya: Health Ministry Snubbed Sh576m to Cover Medics

Treasury set aside Sh576 million for a State-funded medical cover for doctors on contract but the Ministry of Health did not make a follow-up, prompting a recall of the money.

Health workers who have contracted coronavirus would have had access to the cover from July had the ministry requisitioned the money.

Treasury officials told the Senate Health Committee yesterday that the money was allocated to the Health Ministry in the financial year that ended in June.

The money was to cater for the medical cover and psychosocial support for health workers, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.

National Treasury Principal Secretary Julius Muia said failure by the Ministry of Health to get the money and send to the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) led to the allocation being taken back.

“The money was approved in the 2019/20 supplementary estimate number one but the Ministry of Health did not use it. Any appropriation not spent by the end of the financial year is taken back to Treasury,” Mr Muia said.

He added that the Ministry of Health did not even request for the funds.

Exchequer requisition

In the absence of the exchequer requisition, the National Treasury could not transfer the money to the accounts of the Ministry of Health.

Health Administrative Secretary Mercy Mwangangi, who represented Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe at the Senate committee hearing, defended her ministry saying the money could not be transferred to the NHIF because it was allocated towards the end of June.

She, however, added that the ministry requested for Sh520 million in the current financial year for the same purpose and the money was sent to the national medical insurer in less than seven days.

Mr Muia said funds can be made available to the Ministry of Health within seven days.

Dr Mwangangi said her ministry would waive medical fees incurred by health workers who get infected with coronavirus as a temporary measure.

“The bills of health workers who seek services at a public hospital will be waived until the NHIF enlists them in the cover,” Dr Mwangangi told the Senate Health Committee.

Health insurance for medical workers, especially those on contract, has been a thorny issue of late. The contract employees mainly work in high risk coronavirus areas.