In an opinion titled, ‘Workers shall oppose any attempt to disband NHIF’, which was published in the DN of May 28, Cotu secretary-general Francis Atwoli makes disturbing assertions. He claims that President Moi had put in place “functioning healthcare and education systems”.
He then alleges that over the years, services have been downgraded to “deplorable levels”. Why, then, did Kenyans vote out the Kanu regime in 2002 if it was doing well? It’s clear that his views are premised on the fact that he is a “Kanu life member”. Or, is he trying to insult Kenyans who suffered under Moi’s misrule?
He also confesses that he opposed the new NHIF fees in 2012 because it lacked the capacity to manage huge funds. It’s ironic that for many years he sat on the board yet he knew the fund could not deliver on its core mandate.
The Cotu supremo laments that NHIF has only served as a cash cow for politicians and their cronies, yet he worked with them.
He threatens to lead workers in opposing the proposed amendments. In essence, he would prefer the status quo – mismanagement. Whichever way you look at it, he stands to lose if things change at the fund.
He bizarrely compares the NHIF amendments to the Affordable Care Act in the US introduced by former President Barack Obama. The truth is, Obamacare increased access to healthcare to millions of Americans from vulnerable groups.
It’s also false to claim that NHIF mirrors the National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom, which is funded by the government, not members’ contributions.
Mr Atwoli’s proposal for the creation of a separate scheme is simply outrageous, a classic Moi-era idea. It’s clear he is not speaking for workers, but for some powerful faceless cartels.
Denis Kwendo, Bungoma
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I read Francis Atwoli’s opinion titled, ‘Workers shall oppose any attempt to disband NHIF’, which appeared in the DN of May 28 with interest. As a trade unionist and a worker in the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS), I agree with his assertion that NHIF is inefficient and unaccountable.
It owes hospitals vast amounts of money for services provided to members.
However, his assertion that workers are against the proposed changes is unsubstantiated. He’s also incorrect in equating NHIF with the NHS. The NHS is funded by the taxpayer and provides primary care, dental, pharmacy and optical care. Most of the services are at no cost to most citizens.
I don’t understand why Mr Atwoli is proposing two health insurance schemes. This will double administration costs and bureaucracy. Interestingly, his definition of ‘worker’ excludes the self-employed, the majority of whom are women.
A responsible trade union supports and campaigns for better services for all, not the privileged few who are fortunate to be salaried employees. Mr Atwoli should be one of the leading campaigners for a free universal health system providing the highest quality care for all.
Graham Girvan, Kimilili