KENYA — In a recent development, Central Organization of Trade Unions Secretary General Francis Atwoli has been appointed as a member of the Social Health Authority.

The announcement, outlined in a gazette notice dated November 22, was made by Health Cabinet Secretary Susan Nakhumicha. According to the notice, Atwoli is set to serve a three-year term starting from November 22.

The Social Health Authority appointment positions Atwoli alongside other distinguished individuals, including Zakayo Kariuki and Kacinta Kathamu Mutegi.

All members of the board, including Atwoli, are appointed for a term of three years in accordance with the Social Health Insurance Act.

This recent addition to Atwoli’s portfolio underscores his continued influence and involvement in pivotal roles.

The Social Health Insurance Act, part of the Universal Health Coverage bills signed into law by President William Ruto on October 19, encompasses crucial healthcare legislation alongside the Primary Health Care Act, the Digital Health Act, and the Facility Improvement Financing Act.

Atwoli’s multi-faceted engagement in significant responsibilities extends beyond this recent appointment.

Under the Kenya Kwanza administration, he previously assumed key roles, such as membership on the National Labour Board, as appointed by Labour CS Florence Bore in May 2023. This role involves a three-year term and contributes to Atwoli’s influence in labor-related matters.

In June 2023, President Ruto further entrusted Atwoli with a role in selecting the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

As part of a team of seven, their recommendation of Renson Mulele Ingonga highlights Atwoli’s involvement in critical decision-making processes.

Francis Atwoli is a notable figure in the labor movement, serving as the General Secretary of the Kenya Plantation and Agricultural Workers Union (KPAWU).

His recent re-election as the President of the Organization of African Trade Union Unity (OATUU) during the 12th Congress of OATUU in Algiers, Algeria, underscores his influence on an international scale.

Beyond his national and continental roles, Atwoli holds the position of a titular member of the International Labor Organization Governing Body (ILO).

Additionally, he serves as the Vice President of the International Trade Union Confederation, further solidifying his impact in global labor-related matters.

President Ruto unveils Universal Health Coverage Plans for January 2024

President William Ruto has announced his administration’s ambitious plans to implement Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in Kenya, with the rollout scheduled for January 2023.

The President made this announcement during the launch of the Mission for Essential Medical Supplies’ Microbiology Laboratory in Syokimau, Machakos.

Ruto has directed Health Cabinet Secretary Susan Nakhumicha to expedite public discussions with stakeholders on UHC regulations, beginning from December 1, 2023.

During his speech, President Ruto emphasized the importance of these discussions in determining the cost of UHC for individual beneficiaries.

“It is my intention that before January 1, 2024, we must have settled that conversation. That conversation must determine how much somebody like the president pays and how much Mama Mboga (ordinary citizen) pays.

Payment of health insurance should be commensurate with people’s income so that those who cannot afford to pay less or we finance them as the government,” stated President Ruto.

The President reiterated his administration’s commitment to ensuring affordable healthcare for all Kenyans.

He highlighted that the new Microbiology Laboratory would contribute to Kenya’s competitive manufacturing of medicine for the domestic market, potentially reducing the annual import bill by KSh 76 billion (US$497.4 million).

This development follows the approval of the Social Health Insurance Act 2023, a crucial step in the implementation of UHC.

The Act mandates all individuals over the age of 18 living in Kenya to contribute to the Social Health Insurance Fund (SHIF).

To operationalize this, CS Nakhumicha published a gazette notice, declaring the Act effective from November 22, 2023.

“In exercise of the powers conferred by section 1 of the SHIF Act 2023, the cabinet secretary for health designates November 22, 2023, as the date on which the SHIF Act 2023 shall come into operation,” reads the notice.

To enforce the mandatory legislation of all beneficiaries, the government proposed the denial of services for those not registered with the scheme.

Section 26 (5) of the Act directs the national and county governments to deny services to anyone not registered for SHIF.

“A person who is registrable as a member under this Act shall produce proof of compliance with the provisions of this Act on registration and contribution as a precondition of dealing with or accessing public services from the national and county governments,” states the law.

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