NHIF heist: Whistle-blower claims life in danger


Mr Salesio Thuranira-a human rights activist who blew the whistle over medical fraud involving several hospitals.

Photo credit: Courtesy

A human rights activist who blew the whistle on hospitals involved in swindling elderly patients through the national insurance scheme is fearing for his life after receiving threats.

Mr Salesio Thuranira, a resident of Meru, was the first to expose the hospitals that lured elderly patients suffering from arthritis, leaving some maimed and others charged for services not provided.

The threats came three days after the medical scam was exposed in a damning investigative report by NTV on Sunday.

Speaking to Nation.Africa, Mr Thuranira said his wife was called by an unidentified person who warned that "she will soon be pursuing justice as a widow".

"I reported the incident and recorded a statement with the police. This is a direct threat to my life and I suspect it is related to the NHIF (National Health Insurance Fund) scandal. I am calling on the government to protect me," said Mr Thuranira.

The incident was reported to Nkubu Police Station under OB 24/21/06/2023.

After raising the alarm on social media last year, Mr Thuranira reported the incidents to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations and the NHIF Fraud Unit, which failed to act on the complaints.

In April, he petitioned the Meru County Assembly to investigate allegations of mistreatment of elderly residents.

"Afya Bora Hospital Annex in Mwea, Joy Nursing and Maternity in Eastleigh, Nairobi, Jekim Hospital in Nkubu and St Peters Hospital in Kinoo are well coordinated in an illegal scheme to treat Meru residents aged 44 years and above under the guise of curing arthritis through surgery or unknown injections." Mr Thuranira says in the petition.

The petition was presented to the assembly's Health Committee, which is also investigating the matter.

It names six people who represent some of the residents who say they have been cheated by the five hospitals.

Following the Nation exposé by NTV, Health Cabinet Secretary Susan Nakhumicha ordered the closure of the five hospitals and investigations. 

On Tuesday, Jekim Hospital in Meru evacuated all patients admitted to the facility and closed its doors on government orders.

Ms Nakhumicha also ordered all NHIF managers from the affected regions to step aside to allow for investigations.

Staff audit

The CS also ordered a comprehensive lifestyle audit of all NHIF staff to improve transparency.

On Wednesday, NHIF also suspended its contract with the six affected hospitals for 90 days pending investigations.

Investigations into the medical fraud involving NHIF are expected to be completed by the end of the week.

Mr Thuranira has been involved in several public interest litigations and human rights abuses in Meru, earning him the nickname 'Omtata', after Busia Senator Okiya Omtata, who made a name for himself while pursuing public interest cases years before he entered elective politics last year.