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The path to better healthcare for the poor

The majority of Kenyans are in the lower income group, literally living from hand-to-mouth. These folk have very low purchasing power for any kind of services. In matters of health, they are solely dependent on overstretched public services.

They have very limited choices if they ever wished to access better care elsewhere. Little wonder then that our grim healthcare statistics are disproportionately represented by the poor.

It is obvious that the inequality of healthcare access to all Kenyans is unfair. We cannot stand by and wait till the year 2030 when the vision for equitable and affordable healthcare will apparently be realized. Granted, there are many ongoing initiatives both from the government, the private sector and other stakeholders aimed at improving health for all Kenyans. Such efforts are to be commended, but translating visions and missions into reality can sometimes be a pipedream.

If in the lower socio-economic group, there’s plenty you can do yourself to improve your health instantly. Waiting for projected visions to be achieved at some point in the future may never turn out to be good for you, you may be already dead. Start by taking stock of your current health, and take steps to improve what is under your control.Avoid unhelpful social barriers to health-seeking behavior. Some arguments are just ridiculous. Big Sam is not too interested in distributing vaccines disguised as unwanted contraceptives. You must take advantage of preventive public health initiatives that include immunizations, free mosquito nets, free maternity services etc.

There are ways to deal with the inevitable out of pocket costs associated with healthcare. Take full advantage of the NHIF program, this will add up to defray part of your cost and enable access to better quality facilities. Look out for low cost health insurance being fronted by profitable companies as part of their corporate social responsibility. Some insurance schemes meant for the lower end of the market cost a few shillings a day, and can enable you to access a multitude of healthcare facilities.

Equally, there are so many low cost or subsidized health facilities out there offering unrivalled quality of care. Such facilities may be faith-based or funded by philanthropists, seek them out. There are also ways of accessing some seemingly unaffordable health facilities, which usually reserve some funds to help out the needy. You may be required to tick off some boxes before being deemed worthy of support, but you’ll only know if you ask. Many clinicians also sometimes offer free services for deserving patients, you only need to ask.

We must continue to advocate for increased health investments by both central and county governments. Accountability for health must include the poor. Health infrastructure, staffing, supplies and equipment are all too wanting in public facilities. The resources we have can do a better job, if only managed appropriately.

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The majority of Kenyans are in the lower income group, literally living from hand-to-mouth. These folk have very low purchasing power for any kind of services. In matters of health, they are solely dependent on overstretched public services.

They have very limited choices if they ever wished to access better care elsewhere. Little wonder then that our grim healthcare statistics are disproportionately represented by the poor

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