President William Ruto’s administration has suffered a severe blow after the High Court has slammed brakes on the implementation of the controversial Social Health Insurance Fund Act 2023, Primary Health Care Act, and Digital Health Care Act until a case challenging its legality is heard and determined.
In his ruling, Justice Chacha Mwita said the state would be forced to temporarily stop the implementation of the three new funds that had been gazetted.
“A conservatory order is hereby issued restraining the respondents (President William Ruto, CSs in the Ministry of Health and Information, the Attorney General, Commission for Revenue Collection, The National Assembly and the Senate), their agents and or anyone acting on their directives from implementing and or enforcing The Social Health Insurance Act, 2023; The Primary Health Care Act, 2023 and the Digital Health Act, 2023 until February 7, 2024.” Mwita ordered.
He further directed the respondents to file responses to the case within seven days.
The case had been filed by an activist Joseph Enock and the doctors’ Union (KMPDU)
This comes barely a week after the health cabinet secretary Susan Nakhumicha issued a gazette notice on the operationalization of the social health insurance fund.
The Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentist Union (KMPDU) moved to court to stop the rollout of the Universal Health Coverage envisioned in the law which president William Ruto had said would start in January.
The doctor’s union urged that the government did not engage the relevant stakeholders before the implementation of the Act.
KMPDU says it will disenfranchise Kenyan citizens from accessing government services.
In his argument through his counsel Harrison Kinyanjui, Enock urged that the Social Health Insurance Act 2023 did not have enough public participation hence unconstitutional, and that the executive usurped the role of the Parliament when enacting the new law.
He further stated that although Section 2 of the Social Health Insurance Fund Act, 2023 defines “Funds” as constitutive of 3 distinct Funds namely; the Primary Healthcare Fund established under Section 20, the Social Health Insurance Fund established under Section 25, and the Emergency, Chronic and Critical Illness Fund established under Section 28, the Social Health Authority created under Section 4 of the said Act does not confer power on the said authority to administer each and every one of these Funds.
The counsel told the court that Section 6(b) and (c) of the Social Health Insurance Fund Act is a breach of Article 201(e) of the constitution.
“Section 6(b) and (c) of the said Social Health Insurance Fund Act, 2023 merely speaks of an undefined and amorphous “fund”. In regard thereto, there was no report availed by the Commission on Revenue Allocation to the Public pursuant to Article 205(1) of the Constitution of Kenya for consideration under Article 205(2) of the Constitution of Kenya before the voting on the said Social Health Insurance Fund Bill, 2023.” Kinyanjui stated.