Uncertainty Looms as NHIF Pulls the Plug on Uhuru-era EduAfya Scheme

The National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) has, in a surprising turn of events, announced the termination of the EduAfya initiative—a program initiated during the administration of former President Uhuru Kenyatta. Chief Executive Officer Elijah Wachira revealed this information to the National Assembly Petitions Committee, emphasizing that NHIF had excluded EduAfya from the provisions of its replacement body.

The Ministry of Education actively facilitated the EduAfya initiative, ensuring the government’s direct payment of learners’ premiums for medical coverage in public secondary schools. This comprehensive coverage extended to a range of medical services, including treatment abroad.

However, Mr. Wachira dropped a bombshell by informing MPs that all service provider contracts under EduAfya would terminate by December 31. This decision, potentially detrimental, leaves over 3.4 million learners without medical cover, creating uncertainty about their healthcare and raising significant concerns about their well-being.

Emphasizing a fundamental shift, Wachira underscored NHIF’s intention to conclude its contracts with the Ministry of Education by year-end. This decision requires both the Ministries of Health and Education to initiate a search for new service providers as NHIF withdraws from involvement.

Joyce Cherono, the petitioner who highlighted the low uptake of the program due to NHIF’s inadequate communication, awareness, and guidelines, drew attention with her discourse. The discontinuation by NHIF—an action that raises questions about governmental commitment—is concerning for student well-being in public secondary schools.

Reportedly, the government allocated NHIF Sh9.5 billion for the EduAfya medical scheme from 2019 to 2022. Launched through a presidential directive, this initiative resulted in a substantial annual increase of Sh4 billion for health budgetary allocations, based on each student paying a premium of Sh1,350 per year.

EduAfya offers comprehensive medical insurance coverage, including outpatient and inpatient services, day surgical services, local road ambulance, and emergency air rescue services. Nevertheless, NHIF’s decision to terminate contracts puts the future of these vital offerings at stake.

As the year draws to a close, the EduAfya initiative confronts an uncertain future, compelling policymakers, educators, and parents to grapple with finding a new provider. They must ensure the health and well-being of public secondary school students. This decision carries implications beyond immediate medical coverage concerns, prompting broader questions about sustainability and continuity in government-led healthcare initiatives.


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