Elderly citizens under the government’s cash transfer programme will soon be enjoying free medical cover as part of enhanced welfare for the aged.
The government intends to enlist all Kenyans aged 70 years and above to the National Hospital Insurance Fund and pay for their monthly contributions to enable them access free medical services.
According to the Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu, the Inua Jamii program run by the Ministry of Labour will be enhanced to include medical cover because elderly people require better health attention in their sunset days.
Dr Mailu said the government will be paying Sh500 for every beneficiary to NHIF as part of widening the benefits of the elderly safety net.
“Ultimately, we will have an enhanced package from next year for our senior citizens under this program which will include medical cover through NHIF” the CS told journalists in Kitui before presiding over the launch of registration exercise of Kenyans aged above 70 years.
He said retired civil servants, teachers and military personnel in that age bracket will also be included in the welfare program, besides the government’s pension scheme they enjoy.
“This Inua Jamii program was initiated in 2004 by retired President Kibaki and is being improved every year. Now we want to capture all the data to streamline its operations” he said.
He added that once all the necessary data was captured, the government will accredit agents at village level to avoid unnecessary costs old persons incur while travelling to get cash from banks.
ELECTION RIGGING CLAIMS
Dr Mailu also defended the program against claims by Opposition leaders that the timing of the massive data collection targeting elderly people was sinister and meant to rig next month’s elections.
He said it was wrong for National Super Alliance leaders to discourage people from registering in the ongoing exercise by discrediting the long standing government program over unfounded rigging allegations.
“All leaders must join hands to ensure the particulars of every senior citizen are properly captured because the registration has a deadline” he said adding “Ensure you get back your original national identity card after registration.
Last week, Nasa co-principal and presidential running mate Kalonzo Musyoka poured cold water into the program saying some government officers were involved in confiscating older persons IDs at a fee to frustrate them from voting on August 8th.
Mr Musyoka said the timing of the registration exercise days to the main poll was suspect and that the Opposition alliance had sufficient evidence to back their rigging claims.
“When you confiscate peoples IDs as a condition to being registered for the program it amounts to manipulating the general election” he said.
Kitui County Commissioner Boaz Cherutich also dismissed the Opposition claims saying no single person had reported to police about being coerced to surrender his or her Identity card to any government officer.