For a year now Sarah ‘Mama Adrian’ an Eldoret resident has been suffering from ulcers and her child Adrian 3, suffers from a chest condition and tonsils. Like most Kenyans, she has been unable to access quality healthcare and the few times she has tried, have often ended up hitting dead ends mostly attributed to a high cost of prescription drugs and harsh economic times. In fact, close to half the county’s population can barely afford basic health care services according to the Kenya Bureau of Statistics (KBS).
This information comes as no surprise if you consider inflation, the rising cost of living and the fact that a majority of Kenyans live below the poverty level.
“Nikujikaza tu! mpaka mtu apate pesa kidogo,
ndio sababu nashukuru Safaricom Kwa kuja kutupa matibabu ya bure” said James Githaga, an electrician also from Eldoret who was among the over 2500 people who attended the free medical camp at Eldoret Huruma Grounds, an activity organized by the Safaricom Foundation in partnership with Kenya Diabetes Management and Information Center (DMI), on May 25th 2018.
Sarah’s and James’s stories are just a tip of the iceberg compared to the thousands of Kenyans, a considerable number of them being children who end up paying the ultimate price due to lack of access to quality health care or complications that occur during late treatment of some preventable conditions e.g. diabetes.
A good number of these deaths occur due to non-communicable diseases (NCD), a factor that can be controlled if adequate preventive measures are carried out among communities where some of these conditions are rampant.
A United Nations (UN) finding notes that in Kenya for example, community awareness about diabetes is relatively low and that most folks only find out they have the condition during very late stages and therefore end up dying of complications as it becomes difficult to treat such conditions in their late stages.
As part of its recently announced strategy which will focus on health alongside education and economic empowerment, the Safaricom Foundation will aim to alleviate and prevent Type 1 Diabetes among children in Kenya.
The foundation notes that close to 500,000 Kenyans are living with diabetes and shockingly, about 60 percent aren’t even aware they have the condition. Of this 500,000, about 5,000 are children living with type 1 diabetes.
The medical camp activity in Eldoret was aligned with the recently unveiled ‘Safaricom Twaweza Live’ campaign a seven-month long initiative from May to November 2018 that will see the telco giant engage with its customers around the country offering a series of free medical camps around towns. The campaign will also include talent searches aimed at growing and nurturing local talent, road shows, Corporate Social investment activities (CSI) and a set of live music concerts.
“Twaweza live activities are aimed at providing close interactions between various community groups thus ultimately transforming their lives,” said Sylvia Mulinge, Director of consumer business, Safaricom.
“As a Kenyan brand, we are committed to growing local talent and positively impacting the lives of Kenyans” explains Sylvia Mulinge.
The campaign which initially kicked off in Nakuru saw the telco open a new retail shop in the town and then moved to Eldoret where they held auditions in search of local talent at the Boma Inn Hotel. This activity saw Andrew Kipyego ‘Towett’ emerge as a winner, and got the chance to perform live on stage with Kenyan hitmaker Naiboi, during the Twaweza live concert.
“To find out I was the one who was chosen is a humbling experience,” said Towett.
The Live concert which was attended by over 15,000 people featured other local artists including Songa Brand ambassador Nyashinski, Vivian, Redsan and Mercy Masika who brought Eldoret to a standstill.
During the concert, Safaricom announced the launch of their legacy project in partnership with Uasin Gichu County Government.
“We will invest Three million shillings in a project of the people’s choice”, said Mr. Victor Ngumo, Head of the Rift Region, Safaricom. Residents can vote for a project of their choice by dialing *691#.
High-cost of prescription drugs, expensive health insurance schemes and the high cost of medical consultation services are just some of the few challenges that ordinary Kenyans have long complained about.
Considering that mobile penetration in Kenya is among the highest in the world at almost 80% according to the Communications Authority of Kenya (CAK), it makes sense to have a mobile solution that ensures that ordinary Kenyans aren’t alienated when it comes to quality health care. Thus Safaricom has been rolling out M-TIBA a crowdfunding mobile medical solution that aims to provide cheaper insurance plans to ordinary Kenyans who cannot afford NHIF premiums.
Members can sign up by dialing *235# with minimum contributions of 100 shillings a month.