Vicious legal battle launched against new health fund

A serious and vicious legal battle has been launched against the government’s Social Health Insurance Act.

Kicked off in the court on March 20 with lawyer Harrison Kinyanjui on the lead, Kenyans expressed concerns that measures introduced by the Act would discriminate a section of Kenyans.

Appearing before justices Alfred Mabeya, Robert Limo and Fred Mugambi, advocate Kinyanjui, acting on behalf of his client Enock Aura, argued that a sizeable number of Kenyans risk missing out on vital government services on account that they are not registered under SHIF.

The petition has raised grave concerns which need to be addressed.

“Let’s, for instance, say I want to pay my land rates, but because I’m not registered under SHIf, I will not be able to do so. Accessing public services will be impossible. Freedom of movement will be curtailed,” advocate Kinyanjui argued on Wednesday.

“We have Kenyans who take traditional medicine…they don’t have contact with pathogens found in some foods. That Kenyan has probably never gone to hospital in two decades but now you are telling this person you must register under the new fund!” he added, posing a hard question that needs hard response.

At the same time, the lawyer told the court that there was no meaningful public participation as required by the Constitution of Kenya 2010 as he faulted Parliament for not doing its work.

A strong advocate for the adherence to the Constitution, Kinyanjui also pointed out that the said document was not published, printed and distributed in the Swahili language, a national language in Kenya.

Kiswahili is widely spoken and understood across the country better than the English language.

Consequently, Kinyanjui wanted to know if Social Health Workers including healthcare workers and community health promoters were fully and properly trained to undertake their duties.

According to the SHIF, which effectively replaces NHIF, these social health workers would be assigned to every sub-county to take health services to the locals.

On its part, the government through the ministry of Health represented by lawyer Fred Ngatia, said that idea of mandatory insurance for all Kenyans due to ‘principles of solidarity’.

He argued that: Inability to pay is not an available defence mechanism. Membership is mandatory. For those in the informal sector if they don’t have money now, there is Premium financing available.”

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