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NEWS INDEPTH: Respiratory diseases, pregnancy care top medical cover claims

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Respiratory diseases and pregnancy care take up the single largest portion of medical insurance claims in Kenya, a new study showed.

Insurers settled claims worth Sh1.02 billion for treatment of respiratory conditions in 2016 up from Sh749.3 million the previous year, according to the survey commissioned by the Association of Kenya Insurers (AKI).

“Due to the lack of quality data it was hard to pin the most common respiratory diseases. However, tonsillitis, bronchitis and asthma topped the list among children,” Ms Samantha Weya, an actuarial analyst at Zamara, which conducted the study said.

Pregnancy related claims totalled Sh1.04 billion in 2016, rising from Sh935.8 million the previous year.

Respiratory diseases have become one the biggest medical burdens in Kenya on account of rising air pollution.

For instance, pneumonia — a form of acute respiratory infection that affects lungs — is the number one killer of children under the age of five, and accounts for 16 per cent of deaths in Kenya and 18 per cent globally. Last year some 21,854 deaths were linked to pneumonia alone, according to the Economic Survey 2018.


The high prevalence of respiratory diseases has become a pain to medical insurers and households because of the relatively high cost of treatment. The AKI study showed that the average inpatient costs for respiratory diseases per visit was Sh84,614 in 2015 and hit Sh94,485 in 2016.

Though not very common, tuberculosis (TB), however, remains the most cost prohibitive disease based on the average insurance claims of Sh230,587 for inpatient treatment in 2016.

A 2018 national TB patients’ costs survey revealed that a patient visiting public facilities spends up to Sh25,874 while on a six-month treatment programme. The cost is far higher for a patient with the drug resistant TB who pays an average Sh145,110 while on a 20-month long treatment programme.

The head of National Tuberculosis Leprosy and Lung Disease Programme, Maureen Kamene, said that the most economically viable age group -15 to 34 years- is experiencing the highest financial burden of TB treatment.

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“Even with the current free diagnosis and treatment policy, the financial burden remains heavy on tuberculosis patients. There is need to consider appropriate steps to lessen the burden of out-of-pocket costs for TB patients and how best to improve service delivery for poor patients,” she said.

She added that there are certain elements of care that are not considered in the free service policy or covered by the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF).

“Some patients loose hearing, suffer kidney failure or experience lung complications and this is not considered to be part of the TB treatment,” she said.

When the costs burden becomes high, she said, patients often differ treatment which leads to build-up of a drug resistant TB that is more expensive to treat for both patient and the government.

Pregnancy-related conditions incur the highest inpatient claims in the medical insurance segment, according to the AKI study, which revealed that the number of women who experience severe and potentially deadly complications while giving birth in hospitals is on the rise.

They make up the highest inpatient admission cases in the country, revealed the report which did not identify reasons for the steady rise in childbirth complications.

“This is because again the industry has not adopted the recommended standards, which would make it possible to just extract the data,” said Ms Weya.

The report shows that based on claims settled in 2016 over one million women were admitted for complications. This was significant rise from the 935,830 women who were admitted over the same in 2015.

HIV /Aids related cost an average of Sh232,530 per inpatient in 2016 and Sh203,849 in 2015. The outpatient average cost per visit was much lower at Sh8,247 and Sh9,151 in 2015 and 2016 respectively.

Overall, the country’s total settled medical insurance claims in 2016 stood at Sh7.401 billion, a 17 per cent rise from Sh6.325 billion in 2015.

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World Bank pushes G-20 to extend debt relief to 2021

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World Bank Group President David Malpass has urged the Group of 20 rich countries to extend the time frame of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative(DSSI) through the end of 2021, calling it one of the key factors in strengthening global recovery.

“I urge you to extend the time frame of the DSSI through the end of 2021 and commit to giving the initiative as broad a scope as possible,” said Malpass.

He made these remarks at last week’s virtual G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting.

The World Bank Chief said the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the deepest global recession in decades and what may turn out to be one of the most unequal in terms of impact.

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People in developing countries are particularly hard hit by capital outflows, declines in remittances, the collapse of informal labor markets, and social safety nets that are much less robust than in the advanced economies.

For the poorest countries, poverty is rising rapidly, median incomes are falling and growth is deeply negative.

Debt burdens, already unsustainable for many countries, are rising to crisis levels.

“The situation in developing countries is increasingly desperate. Time is short. We need to take action quickly on debt suspension, debt reduction, debt resolution mechanisms and debt transparency,” said Malpass.

ALSO READ:Global Economy Plunges into Worst Recession – World Bank

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Kenya’s Central Bank Drafts New Laws to Regulate Non-Bank Digital Loans

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The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) will regulate interest rates charged on mobile loans by digital lending platforms if amendments on the Central bank of Kenya Act pass to law. The amendments will require digital lenders to seek approval from CBK before launching new products or changing interest rates on loans among other charges, just like commercial banks.

“The principal objective of this bill is to amend the Central bank of Kenya Act to regulate the conduct of providers of digital financial products and services,” reads a notice on the bill. “CBK will have an obligation of ensuring that there is fair and non-discriminatory marketplace access to credit.”

According to Business Daily, the legislation will also enable the Central Bank to monitor non-performing loans, capping the limit at not twice the amount of the defaulted loan while protecting consumers from predatory lending by digital loan platforms.

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Tighter Reins on Platforms for Mobile Loans

The legislation will boost efforts to protect customers, building upon a previous gazette notice that blocked lenders from blacklisting non-performing loans below Ksh 1000. The CBK also withdrew submissions of unregulated mobile loan platforms into Credit Reference Bureau. The withdrawal came after complaints of misuse over data in the Credit Information Sharing (CIS) System available for lenders.

Last year, Kenya had over 49 platforms providing mobile loans, taking advantage of regulation gaps to charge obscene rates as high as 150% a year. While most platforms allow borrowers to prepay within a month, creditors still pay the full amount plus interest.

Amendments in the CBK Act will help shield consumers from high-interest rates as well as offer transparency on terms of digital loans.

SEE ALSO: Central Bank Unveils Measures to Tame Unregulated Digital Lenders

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Scope Markets Kenya customers to have instant access to global financial markets

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NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 20 – Clients trading through the Scope Markets Kenya trading platform will get instant access to global financial markets and wider investment options. 

This follows the launch of a new Scope Markets app, available on both the Google PlayStore and IOS Apple Store.

The Scope Markets app offers clients over 500 investment opportunities across global financial markets.

The Scope Markets app has a brand new user interface that is very user friendly, following feedback from customers.

The application offers real-time quotes; newsfeeds; research facilities, and a chat feature which enables a customer to make direct contact with the Customer Service Team during trading days (Monday to Friday).

The platform also offers an enhanced client interface including catering for those who trade at night.

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The client will get instant access to several asset classes in the global financial markets including; Single Stocks CFDs (US, UK, EU) such as Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google, BP, Carrefour;  Indices (Nasdaq, FTSE UK), Metals (Gold, Silver); Currencies (60+ Pairs), Commodities (Oil, Natural Gas).

The launch is part of Scope Markets Kenya strategy of enriching the customer experience while offering clients access to global trading opportunities.

Scope Markets Kenya CEO, Kevin Ng’ang’a observed, “the Sope Markets app is very easy to use especially when executing trades. Customers are at the heart of everything we do. We designed the Scope Markets app with the customer experience in mind as we seek to respond to feedback from our customers.”

He added that enhancing the client experience builds upon the robust trading platform, Meta Trader 5, unveiled in 2019, enabling Scope Markets Kenya to broaden the asset classes available on the trading platform.

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