Anxiety after chairman of new health authority reports at NHIF

NHIF Chairman Michael Kamau, the newly appointed chairman of the Social Health Authority Dr Timothy Olweny and NHIF CEO Elijah Wachira at the NHIF offices on Friday. [Courtesy]

Transition at the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIF) has kicked off after the appointment of the new board to the scheme.

The newly appointed Social Health Authority (SHA) chairperson Dr Timothy Olweny reported at the office on Friday.

Sources at NHIF told The Standard in confidence that the board will oversee the transition.

“SHA board has already reported. The team is meeting with the current NHIF board for a hand-over,” said a source.

New board

According to the source, the NHIF is expected to hand over its role to the new board (SHA).

“Transition has commenced, though NHIF is still at work, it will hand over its roles to SHA,” added the source.

The transition process – from NHIF to SHA – will take a maximum of 12 months.

However, the source revealed that currently, there is confusion at the fund.

All employees are allegedly not well briefed on their roles during the transition period.

“We do not know what is happening. Nobody knows what they should be doing. There is fear and also anxiety,” said an employee who requested anonymity due to fear of being victimised.

On NHIF Twitter account, the new SHA board was welcomed at NHIF offices on Friday.

The team was led by Dr Olweny who was appointed by President William Ruto last Wednesday.

Olweny was welcomed to the office by NHIF CEO Elijah Wachira, and NHIF chairperson Micheal Kamau.

“The Chairman NHIF Eng. Michael Kamau and the CEO Mr. Elijah Wachira today welcome the newly appointed Chairman of Social Health Authority Dr. Timothy Olweny,” reads a section of the twitter post.

According to the tweet, the meeting between the officials is aimed at smooth transition process.

Efforts by The Standard to get an official comment from NHIF management were unsuccessful.

NHIF is a State Parastatal established in 1966.

The core mandate of the fund is to provide affordable, accessible and sustainable medical cover to all. 

Transition at NHIF is as par with President Ruto’s reforms in health sector.

Health is Kenya Kwanza administration's key agenda, which the president has reaffirmed to implement so that all Kenyans can receive quality healthcare.

The changes to transit NHIF to SHA is factored in the newly enacted Social Health Insurance Act, 2023.

The Social Health Insurance Act, of 2023, provides for the formation of a Social Health Authority (SHA) which will repeal the current National Health Insurance Fund Act, 1998.

Enacted law

SHA in the enacted law establishes the publicly financed Primary Health Fund, a fully publicly financed chronic, emergency and critical illness fund and the Social Health Insurance Fund.

However, Kenyans are yet to know the amount of contribution to make to the insurance scheme.

A team working on regulation of the laws is expected to issue the tariffs to the scheme, including benefits.

Sources at the ministry and NHIF have hinted to The Standard that the team consisting of experts from Ministry of Health, NHIF, and partners are expected to hand over a detailed report on the matter today.

The report will contain a proposal on the amount each Kenyan will remit to the health scheme. 

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