The new constitution clearly bestows on every Kenyan THE RIGHT TO HEALTH.
This right continues to be enjoyed by few Kenyans due to the costs involved.
In this decade, it is sad noting that we still have Kenyans out there dying due to lack of affordable and easily accessible health care.
The situation has even worsened since the fee levied for most of the services in the country have spiraled up.
Everyone is looking for avenues through which they can get quality services at an affordable cost. This could be reason why some have resorted to herbal products or even visit people dealing in alternative medicine.
There is thus need for measures to be out in place to facilitate access to affordable health care by all-rich and poor.
What is affordable health care?
This is when an individual is able to access health services from existing health care facilities without incurring debt.
We have at one point or the other been invited for fund raining events to help offset medical bills incurred by our friends or relatives. Most of the times, it’s been difficult for some people to understand the need for such fund raisers. Some of the questions people always ask include:
- Why didn’t the person who is soliciting funds get services from a public health care facility within their budget
- Why don’t these individuals get a medical cover for themselves and their families
- If the person is suffering from a lifelong situation, where will they get money in future for such expenses
The list is endless depending on what side of the spectrum one is looking at.
We have even heard of cases where women have been detained in hospitals 6 months after delivery due to their inability to settle the charges incurred either during a normal delivery or caesarean section. What most hospitals forget is that they do not in any way do themselves a favour by detaining these women, who still have to be fed together with their children, in addition to occupying beds that could otherwise be used by other patients’.
Is affordable health care available?
In my view Kenya has the best health facilities in different counties. These include:
Public health facilities
Some of these facilities include dispensaries or health centres owned by the city council and the Ministry of Health. They offer a wide range of services. Most of these services are offered free of charge for children less than 5 years.
Why do I consider services offered in these public health facilities affordable?
Most of children under 5 years require to be vaccinated against certain common childhood illnesses. Under the Kenya Expanded Programme on Immunization (KEPI), children can access the essential vaccines free of charge.
I would there recommend that instead of parents taking their children to private hospitals for vaccines, they should instead take them to the public health facility.
For example in one of the private health facilities, the pneumonia jab is being given at the rate of Kshs 800*3 doses. This same jab is given free of charge at the public health facilities. By the way it is not as if the private health care facilities give a high quality version of this jab, they even get their vaccine supplies from the same supplier as the government health facilities
Private health facilities
These are found in every town and village. They are privately owned by people who are either qualified or not.
In my view there are those private health facilities which provide affordable health care, whereas others are extremely expensive. Many people find it hard to access some of these facilities due to the high consultation fee levied.
It’s only those clinics that are located in the estates or rural areas which have a low fee charged for consultation. This can be as low as Kshs 20 per visit compared to others owned by large private companies, where the consultation fee can be as high as Kshs 2000 depending on the condition/medical complaint.
In as much as these facilities are easily available, majority of them do not provide affordable health care. This in my view is influenced by the fact that these health care facilities retain services of specialists in different fields, hence the reason why consultation fee is very high.
Most of these private heath in my do not provide affordable health care
Missionary health care facilities
The Catholic and Anglican diocese have done a great job in taking health care facilities closer to the people. These health care facilities in most cases provide a wide range of services at a very minimal fee.
When it comes to dental care, in Kenya , these services can be comfortably accessed by all in these missionary health care facilities. In one of these dental outlets in Nairobi, one only needs to pay Kshs 20 for consultation, Kshs 100 for tooth extraction and Kshs 300 for X-Ray.
These facilities are considered the best alternative for campaigns geared towards encouraging women to delivery their children in health care facilities. Most of these facilities rely on the expertise of specialists in the various medical fields.
The GoK should be reminded that affordable health care is our constitutional right
There is no need for Kenyans to miss out on essential health services due to costs and distance from health facilities.
Everyone has a right to affordable health care