The appointment of former Assistant Minister Lewis Nguyai as the board chairman of the National Hospital Insurance (NHIF) has been petitioned as irregular.
Through a petition dated April 21, 2021 addressed to the Office of the President by Kirinyaga politician Josiah Murigu, he threatened to challenge the appointment in court within 48 hours.
He submits that the position Nguyai has assumed is subject to the constitutional provisions applicable to the public service which falls under the Public Service Commission established by the Constitution.
“Article 233 of the Constitution mandates the Public and Service Commission hereinafter referred to as the PSC to establish and abolish offices in the public service, appoint persons to hold or act in the said offices, NHIF being amongst them. The reason why the Commission is mandated to appoint persons seeking to serve in such offices is to ensure that the said State officers appointed to such offices have met the national values and principles espoused under Articles 10 of the Constitution which includes transparency, accountability and Article 232 (1) which deals with values and principles in the public service namely, high standards of professional ethics , transparency, efficient and effective use of resources, accountability of public resources amongst other principles.” The petition reads in part. .
Further, Murigu avers that owing to the huge responsibility Nguyai intends to undertake, he requires to be a person who the PSC is satisfied that is fit to serve as a public servant and that has met the thresholds outlined under Articles 10 and 232 (1) of the Constitution.
According to the petition in our possession and submitted electronically, the PSC was denied this opportunity and public contribution to the NHIF scheme managing billions of shillings from the taxpayer.
“However, I, as an informed citizen will not let that happen because I have the benefit of hindsight of the said Nguyai leadership history,” read the letter.
Previously, Nguyai was previously the Chief Executive Officer of an insurance firm, Mediplus Health Services.
Under his leadership, the firm was sued for payment of medical services by The Aga Khan University amounting to Kshs.18, 000,000.
“A summary judgment was entered against the said insurance and Nguyai. On 28″ May, 2007, Nguyai guaranteed in writing that he would pay the said Kshs. 18,000,000 and subsequently gave a cheque of Sh5, 000,000. The Kshs. 5,000,000 was dishonoured as Nguyai’s bank account had been closed,” says the petition.
The petition against Nguyai’s appointment comes at a time the Senate has initiated process to probe the board of the State insurer over recruitment of its Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Peter Kamunyo Gathege.
Through the clerk Jeremiah Nyegenye, a petitioner, Alexander Irungu Wanjiru asked the House to investigate the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) board for acting in breach of the law.
According to Irungu, the recruitment of the agency’s boss and subsequent appointment in April 2020 should be revoked.
“On March 20, 2020, the NHIF board held a special meeting on the recruitment of the CEO. It handpicked and appointed Dr Gathege as the new CEO without subjecting the appointment though a competitive process,” said Irungu in a petition read in the House by Speaker Ken Lusaka.
In February this year, President Kenyatta appointed Nguyai through a special gazette notice dated February 23, 2021 to take over from Hannah Muriithi who has been at the helm of the board since April 2018.
The changes at NHIF come at a time when the fund is implementing the Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
The government rolled out the UHC pilot programme in Machakos, Isiolo, Kisumu and Nyeri counties in 2018 and the regions have provided insights into what our national UHC programme will look like.
The pilot Program dubbed Afya Care – Wema Wa Mkenya- is aimed at enabling Kenyans to access affordable healthcare without financial hardship.
It is based on the principle that all individuals and communities should have access to quality, essential health services without suffering financial hardship.
According to the programme, the next steps in the UHC include increasing the uptake and utilisation of community health volunteers (CHVs) services, investing in the standardisation of diagnostics and prioritising the National Integrated Identity Management System (NIIMS) programme for biometric registration of patients.
Others include strengthening the monitoring of health facilities under the UHC pilot phase, strengthening health systems in the 43 non-pilot counties and ensuring efficient and appropriate use of health funds.