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Gov’t to regulate medical charges

Health Cabinet Secretary has hinted at a plan by the government to regulate medical charges, blaming private hospitals for exploiting poor Kenyans.

On Monday, while commissioning construction of wards at Kigumo Health Centre, Kagwe said some private hospitals have been taking advantage of sick Kenyans to charge inflated prices for their services.

He said his ministry is in the process to formulate a policy that will regulate hospitals and avert Kenyans from being exploited.

In the policy, National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF), the CS said, will be paying a standard cost for similar medical services.

Mutahi was responding to a request by Murang’a County Woman Representative Sabina Chege, who called for a policy to regulate medical bills saying some families have been unable to bury their loved ones after hospitals refuse to release bodies due to huge bills.

“I appeal to those who have ventured to offer medical health care to be humane and stop exploiting the poor who cannot afford your medical costs. Charge reasonable prices for services you are offering,” he stated.

He said when the NHIF bill will be over, the government will regulate medical services charges saying the move will be aimed to assist Kenyans.

“We cannot leave everything to be directed by demand and supply. As a ministry we will regulate through the NHIF bill the amount to be paid to similar health services,” added Kagwe.

The CS observed that it’s worrying to see a hospital refusing to release a body due to hefty bill calling for affected hospitals to have a discussion with bereaved families so as nobody is detained.

“If a family is unable to foot a medical bill for their departed kin, where do you expect the same people to get an astronomical amount of money to foot the medical bill!” posed Kagwe.

He challenged Kenyans to register with NHIF so as to support the government in implementing universal health care.

Meanwhile, Kagwe said the county government should provide mobile administration of covid-19 vaccines.

He said county hospitals can use ambulances among other vehicles with cooling compartments to take the vaccine to the grassroots so as to reach the aged and the sick who cannot easily access areas where the vaccine is being administered.

“It’s my appeal to county governments to embark on mobile vaccination of covid-19 jab. Use facilities you have to take the vaccine to people at their homes,” he added.

He continued, “The positivity rate is going down but we are not out of danger. Let Kenyans come out and get vaccinated. By Mashujaa day, we want to have more than 5.8 million people fully vaccinated against the virus.”

The CS said by vaccinating many people it will help the government to open the country and allow Kenyans to embark fully in their economic activities.

The expansion of Kigumo Health Centre, will enable the facility to be upgraded to level-4 and support service delivery not only in Kigumo but also neighbouring sub counties.

Kigumo MP Ruth Wangari said the expansion will cost Sh. 400 million and is expected to be completed in August next year.

“After completion, the hospital will have more than 100 bed capacity, surgical theaters, laboratories and a renal unit. The facility will be of a big relief to locals who used to travel to Murang’a town or Thika to seek enhanced medical care,” added Wangari.

By Bernard Munyao

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