Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta this morning launched emergency air rescue and ground ambulance services to be provided by Amref Flying Doctors for civil servants and members of the disciplined forces.
The event was held at the Amref Flying Doctors hangar at the Wilson Airport in Nairobi, Kenya. The emergency services are part of an enhanced medical insurance package offered by the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) to civil servants and the disciplined forces across Kenya.
Those who received the President included interim Amref Health Africa CEO Dr. Lennie Kyomuhangi-Bazira and Amref Flying Doctors CEO Dr. Bettina Vadera. Dr. Vadera gave the President a tour of an Amref Flying Doctors plane and also showed him one of the ground ambulances used for evacuations.
In his speech to launch the program, the President noted that the availability of emergency services would be of great benefit, particularly to members of the disciplined forces, who put their lives on the line and were often injured in the course of duty in remote areas as they defend the country.
He observed, however, that many Kenyans are unable to access health care because services require direct payment that is beyond their ability to pay. “The cost of health care pushes people into poverty,” he said. The President urged the Ministry of Health and the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) to ensure that at least 25 million people had general health insurance cover provided by the NHIF in the next 12 months in order to cushion Kenyans from the draining effects of ill health. Five million people are currently registered under the NHIF program.
The President thanked development partners for their work in supporting the Government’s efforts to provide health care.
Cabinet Secretary for Health Mr. James Macharia said that the Kenya Government had made important steps towards improving access to health care for Kenyans, including free maternity care at all its facilities, and ensuring that more citizens had health insurance. These efforts had borne fruit as there has been a dramatic increase in hospital attendance within the past year, he said. In the first six months of 2014, for instance, the number of women receiving maternal health services at government facilities increased from 44 per cent to 64 per cent.
Dr. Vadera assured President Kenyatta of the Flying Doctors' commitment to offering the highest level of pre-hospital care to civil servants and the disciplined forces in the new partnership with NHIF.
She explained that Amref Flying Doctors is an incorporated company limited by guarantee wholly owned by Amref Health Africa, and that it is the largest and best-known international air ambulance service provider East Africa.
“We have been in the Aeromedical transport industry for close to 60 years, acquiring a huge wealth of experience, professionalism and solid infrastructure. The funds raised from our work are used to support the humanitarian work that Amref Health Africa does in Kenya and other countries, including charity evacuations,” she said.
The event was also attended by the Cabinet Secretary for Devolution and Planning, Mrs. Anne Waiguru, Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery, who is in charge of security, and the Chair of the NHIF Board, Mr. Mohamud Ali.