Patients reliant on the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) in Kenya are facing a grim reality as the government admits to being financially crippled, leaving the NHIF struggling to meet its obligations.

In an interview with a local radio station, Health Cabinet Secretary Susan Nakhumicha acknowledged the dire situation and the potential consequences for patients in need of medical treatment.

"Kenya is broke, and that is the fact that no one can deny at all," stated CS Nakhumicha, addressing the financial crisis.

"The cash crisis has even affected NHIF, and that is the whole truth. We are working on all available interventions to see how we will address the situation. One of the best solutions we are thinking about is the introduction of the Finance Bill 2023. That’s why our President is so passionate about it."

Nakhumicha assured Kenyans that she had personally discussed the matter with President William Ruto, emphasizing the importance of prioritizing the health sector and finding funds to pay NHIF.

"I want to assure Kenyans that we sat down with the President this week and informed him about the necessity of the health sector in the country. I told him that he should prioritize the matter and look for funds to pay NHIF. He agreed," the CS said.

According to her, the government is considering the Finance Bill 2023 as a permanent solution to the ongoing financial challenges.

Currently, hospitals owe NHIF approximately Sh20 billion, exacerbating the financial strain on the national insurer.

Nakhumicha stated that negotiations with the Treasury were underway to secure the release of these funds, offering hope that the situation would improve in the near future.

"We are in talks with Treasury to see how this money will be released. Talks are at an advanced stage and very soon things will be better," she affirmed.

In addition to the financial crisis, CS Nakhumicha revealed that the government had established an advisory council aimed at addressing the recurring issue of health workers' strikes.

The newly formed Kenya Advisory Council will provide guidance on handling the strikes in both county and national healthcare facilities.

The head of state is expected to inaugurate the members of the Kenya Human Resource Advisory Council within the next two weeks.

"We have gazetted Kenya Advisory Council that will seek to advise how to deal with health workers in the counties and the national government. In the next two weeks President Ruto will inaugurate members of the Kenya Human Resource Advisory Council,” Nakhumicha said.

The consequences of the financial crisis are particularly severe for the approximately 80 per cent of Kenyans who rely on NHIF for their healthcare needs.

The stalemate between involved parties is expected to have a severe impact on individuals suffering from kidney failure.

These patients, in particular, will face the greatest challenges. The financial burden imposed by dialysis sessions, with an average cost ranging from Sh9,500 to Sh16,000, will be significant.

Fortunately, the current NHIF coverage provides some relief by ensuring that patients are not required to pay anything unless they surpass the necessary three sessions per week.

This coverage plays a crucial role in alleviating the financial strain on these individuals.

As the government grapples with its financial constraints and seeks a sustainable solution through the Finance Bill 2023, the uncertainty surrounding NHIF payments and the mounting debts owed by hospitals continue to jeopardize the well-being of patients.

The Kenyan public anxiously awaits progress in the negotiations with the Treasury, hoping for a swift resolution that will ensure access to vital healthcare services for all citizens.