The National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) has denied reports circulating on social media indicating that the government has discontinued the Linda Mama program, a free maternity initiative introduced by the previous administration of retired President Uhuru Kenyatta to address challenges of high maternal mortality.
In a statement on Monday, January 2, NHIF termed the information as false, insisting that the cover is still active and “mothers continue to benefit massively”.
“Attention is drawn to recent false social media messages purporting the discontinuity of the government-funded Linda Mama program. NHIF wishes to assure the public that the cover is still active as mothers continue to benefit massively,” a notice shared on social media read in part.
“…The Fund, therefore, urges the public to ignore the false messages shared online.”
The state-backed insurer said over six million mothers have benefited from the cover since its inception in 2017.
“The program, funded by the Government of Kenya, targets expectant women and aims at reducing maternal and child deaths.
“In addition, the program ensures mothers do not struggle with paying medical bills during pregnancy and childbirth and encourages them to seek the services of a skilled birth attendant,” NHIF said.
Linda Mama services
Expectant mothers access a one-year cover that caters for four antenatal visits, normal or Caesarean section delivery, three postnatal care visits and vaccines for the child.
“The mothers register through their phones by dialling ‘155# or downloading the ‘MY App. The membership is activated at the clinic following confirmation of pregnancy,” NHIF added.
Public Alert: The Government Continues Taking Care of Mothers through the Linda Mama program implemented by NHIF. Read the poster for more info. #afyayangubilastress #UHC pic.twitter.com/HfeAIdezDa
— NHIF Kenya (@nhifkenya) January 2, 2023
The clarification follows speculations online that the Kenya Kwanza administration had discontinued the program in a cost-cutting measure.
The claims were fuelled by President William Ruto’s stance on ending all subsidies rolled out by the Jubilee government.
In his new year message, President Ruto said direct subsidies on a number of government programs were unsustainable and counterproductive to Kenya’s economy in the long term.
Speaking in State House Mombasa during New Year’s eve, the Head of State said his administration was forced to make difficult decisions to steer the country in the right direction, economically.
“When I came into office, I had to make difficult decisions about our economy, because we were not doing well and we needed to change the foundation of our economy. I found that there were decisions that were made for political expediency for that time, because we had an election,” President Ruto said.
He said subsidies on products such as maize flour (unga), fuel and electricity were unsustainable.
“Some subsidies on unga, fuel, and electricity were not informed by the science of our economy, but were informed by the expediency of the political moment that existed at that time,” he stated.
“We have had to do away with those subsidies because otherwise they would cost our economy big time.”
The President said that were it not for his quick intervention, the government would be spending close to Ksh25 billion every month on some of the programmes set out by the previous administration.
“We did away with those subsidies in August and I am happy that we have saved our economy huge amounts of money and we are not well on the way to making sure that we invest in the areas that will drive our economy in a sustainable manner,” he added.