Members of the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) who sought cancer treatment in the 2016/17 financial year spent a total of Ksh1 billion.
This comes at a time when the push for the government to declare cancer a national disaster has intensified.
NHIF oncology (cancer treatment) package pays for its members up to Ksh1 million for treatment locally or internationally.
“Cancer patients accessed cancer treatment at a cost of Ksh1 billion paid for by the NHIF in FY 2016/17. Many Kenyans have benefited from the cover by relieving families of the burden of treating chronic diseases” said the NHIF CEO Geoffrey Mwangi.
Afya smiles Kenya estimates the costs of chemotherapy to be between Ksh10,000 and Ksh82,000 per session in a public hospital and Ksh35,000 to Ksh500,000 per session in private Hospitals. This means that on average a patient can spend over one million Kenya shillings for cancer treatment.
“The funds mission is to provide accessible, affordable, social health insurance which, is in line with Universal Health Care (UHC) one of the President’s big four agenda,” reads a statement from the state insurer.
UHC is described by the United Nations as a situation where citizens can access health services without incurring financial hardship. U.N. member states have agreed to work toward universal health coverage by 2030.
If a member who is a patient needs services like radiotherapy or chemotherapy, he or she must first seek pre-authorisation form from the NHIF, which involves having a form filled in by the attending doctors specifying the therapy they require, total sessions needed and drugs before they can be treated.
Cancer is the third highest cause of ill health in Kenya after infectious diseases and cardiovascular diseases. Kenya Cancer network estimates that there are 39,000 new cases of cancer each year with more than 27,000 deaths per year in Kenya. They also estimate that about 60 per cent of those affected by cancer are younger than 70 years old.
The leading cancers in women are breast and cervical cancer while prostate and esophageal cancers dominate in men.
“NHIF strives to continually review its benefit packages and organize them towards providing aids to all members. These benefit packages aim to provide financial risk protection,” adds the statement.
Mr Gilbert Osorio from NHIF claims and benefits department is confident that NHIF is capable of taking on the task of implementing the UHC Agenda. He said that NHIF has been tried, tested and proven in the last couple of years.
He further says that over the past five years NHIF has increased the care benefit packages from two to over five. Cancer treatment package is one of the packages in place and has seen thousands of families save millions of shillings on Hospital bills.
“Every day there is one person being diagnosed with cancer in Kenya and 10 people weekly. Statistics have shown that over 70,000 people travel abroad each year to seek treatment and amongst those a staggering 70 per cent are going to seek cancer treatment” Mr. Osoro noted.
The NHIF care package entails up to 10 chemotherapy sessions, oral and injectable anti cancers drugs, inpatient and outpatient oncology services, 20 sessions for radio therapy, and up to two sessions for brachytherapy for advanced cancer per year.
Some of the hospitals that offer the package include all the level five and six hospitals government hospitals, and other private hospitals in urban centers.
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