The fate of former President Uhuru Kenyatta’s EduAfya initiative hangs in the balance after the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) told Parliament that the programme is not included in the new body that is set to replace the fund.
The Ministry of Education facilitates the EduAfya programme through the Free Day Secondary Education by directly paying the premiums for all learners in public secondary schools. The learners qualify for access to a wide range of medical services, including treatment abroady.
NHIF Chief Executive Officer Elijah Wachira on Thursday, November 30, told the National Assembly Petitions Committee that the fund will terminate all service provider contracts under EduAfya by December 31. This will leave over 3.4 million learners without medical cover.
Mr Wachira told MPs that upon termination of the contracts, the ministries of Health and Education will have to find a new provider since NHIF will no longer exist.
“By the end of the year, NHIF will run down all the contracts it had with the Ministry of Education and therefore they will have to look for a new service provider,” he said.
Mr Wachira was appearing before the committee, which is considering a petition by Joyce Cherono, who wants MPs to intervene on the poor implementation of the programme.
According to the petitioner, the uptake of the initiative is still low due to poor communication, awareness and insufficient guidelines from NHIF.
NHIF has pocketed Sh9.5 billion from the government in four years under the EduAfya medical scheme between 2019 and 2022. Launched through a presidential directive, the initiative has led to an increase in health budgetary allocations to the tune of Sh4 billion annually based on a premium of Sh1,350 per student per year.
The scheme offers comprehensive medical insurance cover to students in public secondary schools registered under the National Education Management Information System.
In order for one to access the medical services, the student is required to present an NHIF membership card or a letter written and duly endorsed by the school principal or a designated official if the student is yet to receive a membership card.
The programme includes outpatient and inpatient services, day surgical services, local road ambulance and emergency air rescue services.