President William Ruto with his deputy Rigathi Gachagua and other leaders at the Kimalel Goat Auction in Baringo county, on December 14, 2023. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

President William Ruto has said he will root out cartels at the Ministry of Health amid the ongoing struggle between the government and other stakeholders on reforms.

Speaking at the Kimalel Goat Auction in Baringo county, President Ruto said long-time profiteers of corruption in the health sector are sponsoring court cases against the reforms.

A seemingly agitated President said the reforms, especially at the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) to the Social Health Insurance Fund (SHIF), are unstoppable.

“We will not accept blackmail anymore. The people who are opposing Universal Health Care (UHC) are those who have been benefiting from corruption in the Ministry of Health,” said Ruto.

He said some cartels in the health sector are making fictitious claims to NHIF for services not rendered and are behind the court cases.

“They will not win. I declare to them. Those who want to perpetuate theft at the Ministry of Health won't succeed. They have become extremely rich because of corruption,” he said.

He added: “Some people who have moved to court over NHIF reforms are cons. Some of them have hospitals that make more claims for surgeries than our biggest health facility, Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH). This is theft.”

According to him, the reforms are aimed at ensuring Kenyans from all walks of life have access to health services without struggle. “What those opposing the reforms will not tell you is that we are lowering premiums and paying for those who cannot afford. They are focusing on sideshows rather than the benefits,” said Ruto.

The President reiterated his commitment to transforming the economy amid sharp criticism of the taxation regime, saying Kenya's development had lagged behind countries with which it was at par a few decades ago.

“Our country has delayed growth at the same level as others like Malaysia and Singapore. We shall not allow that to happen. We will work to change this country. It is madness to expect different results when you keep doing things the same way,” said Ruto.

He said his administration was focused on home-grown solutions to transform the economy through enhanced agricultural production and value addition.

“For instance, for our leather industry to flourish, we shall heavily tax shoe imports to encourage the use of locally made shoes using our leather from our livestock farmers,” he said.

The President, however, said the government has to first deal with teething problems such as insecurity that affects development.

“By January, we shall ensure all fertiliser is delivered to stores near farmers. I have spoken with leaders in areas such as Lamu to find lasting solutions,” he said. Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua defended the government on its economic policies, saying they are working on a revival plan.

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