It has now emerged that Meru County Government officials collaborated with rogue health facilities to mint millions from ailing residents in the NHIF heist.
Exploiting the vulnerability of ailing residents, these fraudsters deceived villagers in Meru by offering false hope and promising to alleviate their arthritis complications and other ailments.
Tragically, this elaborate scheme has caused immeasurable anguish, disability, and even death among the affected residents.
The February Petition
On 13th February 2023, Mr. Salesio Thuranira, a human rights activist, filed a petition with the Meru County Assembly Health committee. The petition accused five private hospitals of defrauding elderly residents by fraudulently claiming to treat arthritis.
According to the petition, these hospitals, namely Afya Bora Hospital Annex, RFH Healthcare, Joy Nursing & Maternity, St. Peters Hospital and Jekim Hospital, took money from patients’ NHIF cards for services they did not provide.
Mr. Thuranira urged the assembly to summon the hospital proprietors to address the concerns raised in the petition. The activist also revealed that Winfred Kathure, a woman associated with the hospitals, recruited patients who were then transported to Nairobi for the purported treatment
Acknowledging the seriousness of the allegations, Meru Assembly Speaker Ayub Bundi directed the Health committee to conduct a thorough investigation and submit a report by May 31, 2023.
Almost a month after this deadline, the findings of the Health Committee have not been made public.
One of the victims, Mr. Mwebia M’miriti, recalls how his village was mobilized to attend a supposedly free arthritis medical camp at Nkubu Stadium in October 2022.
His ailing wife was advised to visit a private medical facility in Chuka, with transportation provided free of charge. From there, she was taken to Nairobi, also free of charge, in a vehicle arranged by the camp officials.
After the operation, Mr. Mwebia received a text message notifying him that Sh300,000 had been deducted from his card for his wife’s treatment. Tragically, his wife passed away soon after the operation, alone and far from home.
Despite the payment, it remains uncertain if the full amount was utilized for her treatment, as she was buried without a post-mortem examination being conducted.
In response to these accounts, Dr. Jerry Wasena, an orthopedic surgeon and proprietor of St. Peters Hospital, claimed that the patient required surgical intervention for grade three osteoarthritis.
However, Mr. Mwebia’s recollection differs, as he maintains that his late wife was picked up during the medical camp.
Collusion with Scammers
Amidst the ongoing investigation into the fraudulent medical practices, a letter dated April 24, 2023, from the County Department of Health has surfaced. The letter exposes a worrying pattern of collaboration between the scammers and County officials.
The letter approves a medical camp organized by St. Peters Orthopedic and Surgical Specialty Center in Kionyo, South Imenti constituency, signed on behalf of Dr. Muthuri Koome, the County Director of Health Services.
The approval was granted to St. Peters Orthopedic Center, despite being suspected of involvement in the NHIF scam.
It is this collaboration between Meru County officials and NHIF scammers that has resulted in immense suffering, financial loss, and tragic deaths for the people of Meru.
Residents hope that the ongoing investigations will diligently uncover the truth and bring the culprits to justice.
The author is a Digital Strategist. He occasionally writes on matters Technology, Politics and Health