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NGO Council backs call to break up NHIF board

By Cyrus Ombati | May 4th 2012

Just a day after National Hospital Insurance Fund chairman Dr Richard Muga was sent packing, more drama unfolded.
The National Council of Non-Government Organisations (NGO) Council issued a statement saying it has recalled its nominee to the Board of the troubled fund, Mr David ole Konchela. The Council's Executive Committee is backing calls for the NHIF Board to be disbanded, to pave way for full investigations on the allegations of mismanagement.
Interestingly, the NGO Council also supported the position of the Central Organisation of Trades Union (Cotu) for suspension of NHIF’s new rates.
The minimum NHIF contributions were set to rise from Sh320 per month to Sh2,000 for people earning a monthly gross salary of Sh100,000 and above.
Those earning between Sh50,000 and Sh99,999 gross salary would fork out Sh1,500 per month.
Formal sector workers in the lowest salary band of less than Sh5,000 per month would pay Sh150 while the self-employed would remit Sh500 per month.
The adjustments were arrived at after the High Court threw out a case by Cotu that had blocked the increment.
The increase was read as a painful pill to a huge section of the working class, who would now take home less pay at the end of the month but unsure whether they can access quality medical care in private hospitals whose charges are prohibitive.
Dr Muga was shown the door only moments after he unsuccessfully attempted to suspend the fund’s CEO, Mr Richard Kerich, in a bitter boardroom coup.

Meanwhile, The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) has launched investigations into claims a hospital associated with suspended NHIF chairman Dr  Muga is trading with the fund.

The officials are pursuing what they termed as conflict of interest in the case because Dr Muga allegedly never declared to the board that he is linked to the hospital operating from Kisumu.
Sources at the commission said yesterday they are reviewing various documents that show Dr Muga is associated with the Star Children Hospital, which is also accredited to NHIF.
“Some board members have confirmed us he never informed them that he is linked to this hospital and that amounts to conflict of interest,” said a senior EACC official.
Documents seen by The Standard show the hospital was accredited in 2000 way before he was named the chairman of the board’s fund.
In the documents, Dr Muga is named as a visiting consultant. We could not get a comment from the suspended chairman over the probe and he could not respond to our calls.
The NHIF chief executive   said he was not aware if his chairman is linked to the hospital. Kerich said he would countercheck his records before he could comment on the same.
The issue is said to have featured at a board meeting at the fund yesterday that prompted drama that saw Muga first suspend some of the members.

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