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Health Financing Reform Debated at Strathmore Business School

  Aug 22, 2011
 

At the National Healthcare Financing Forum which took place at Strathmore Business School (SBS) on Wednesday, 17th August 2011, Dean Emeritus Dr. George Njenga laid bare the questions at hand when he challenged the assembled stakeholders saying, “The new constitution guarantees Kenyans quality healthcare, but how are we going to do this? How many people can access proper healthcare today in Kenya?”

The stakeholders who gathered to discuss this important topic were key players in the Kenyan health sector including representatives from the government as well as from private hospitals and insurance companies. Their aim was to reopen the stalled debate on how to establish an affordable and sustainable health financing scheme and to determine the way forward towards providing universal coverage as mandated by the new constitution.

A presentation by leader of GIZ’s Health Sector Programme and SBS lecturer Dr. Klaus Hornetz provided examples from other countries which have successfully implemented healthcare reform. Chief Economist from the Ministry of Medical Services Elkana Ong’uti then gave the historical perspective and situational analysis of the national debate and updated guests on the process of developing a new strategy for universal coverage currently underway in the government.

|The presentations were followed by a Q and A after which participants were divided into groups to discuss four pressing questions: 1.) What should the basic package of healthcare include? 2.) What is the role of the regulator in health insurance and what kind of regulatory body will be required? 3.) How can we leave room for competition and provide choice? And 4.) Should health insurance be mandatory for all Kenyans?

The impetus for the forum arose out of the Leading High-Performing Healthcare Organisations (LeHHO) Program, which is a healthcare leadership program offered as part of SBS’s Executive Education Programs. In the program, long-time opponents in the health financing debate found themselves on the same team trying to resolve differences, build bridges and network in the sector to generate a workable solution. The team members who joined forces to organize the stakeholders’ forum at Strathmore included Richard Kerich, CEO, National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF); Richard Muga, Chairman of the Board, NHIF; Marwa F. Chacha, Manager, Strategy and Planning, NHIF; Kanyenje K. Gakombe, CEO, Metropolitan Hospital; and Anthony Mwangi, CEO, Sunland Insurance Brokers.

LeHHO is offered by SBS in partnership with the Management Sciences for Health (MSH) and is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Speaking at the end of the forum, Project Director for MSH Karen Caldwell thanked the participants for the stimulating session and acknowledged the significant occasion, saying, “Now is the time for this kind of change, and you are the people to make it happen.”

Representing the LeHHO team that organised the forum, Dr. Kanyenje Gakombe – CEO of Metropolitan Hospital, gave closing remarks comparing the current period in Kenyan history with the struggle for independence saying, “For those of us who were not there then, this is our chance to say I was there when the new constitution came and I did my part to make Kenya the success it is today.”

Momentum from the forum is expected to help move the national discussion forward. Summaries from the presentations and discussions will be incorporated into another upcoming stakeholders’ session to be held on 29 September 2011 at which the strategic review of NHIF will be presented by IFC, Deloitte and the Ministry of Medical Services.

Click here to view pictures of the day that was.



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