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Slum dwellers get treatment subsidy for lifestyle diseases

From left, Pharm Access Foundation country director Millicent Olulo, Access Afya chief of staff Maggie Kiplagat and Boehringer Ingelheim Global Head Raw, Packaging & Device Materials Sourcing Dr Eduardo Lioy on July 3, 2017. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NMG
From left, Pharm Access Foundation country director Millicent Olulo, Access Afya chief of staff Maggie Kiplagat and Boehringer Ingelheim Global Head Raw, Packaging & Device Materials Sourcing Dr Eduardo Lioy on July 3, 2017. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NMG 

Over 10,000 residents in Nairobi's informal settlements are set to benefit from a subsidy programme geared towards tackling diabetes and high blood pressure starting this month.

This follows a partnership between a German pharmaceutical company, Boehringer Ingelheim, and two healthcare providers - PharmAcess Foundation and Access Afya - that are actively working in Kenya's low-income communities.

The first 10,000 slum dwellers will benefit from free consultation, medical tests and treatment of diabetes and high blood pressure at three Access Afya clinics via the outreach programme, Akiba ya Roho.

The Afya Access clinics are located in Kiambio, Eastleigh; Hazina Estate in Nairobi’s South B and Sinai in Mukuru slums.

“We (Boehringer Ingelheim) will cover all the screening costs and tests during the current launch initiative and also offer 40 per cent off the total amount of treatment and check-up for patients’ second visit,” said Dr Eduardo Lioy, Boehringer Ingelheim’s Global Sourcing Operations Head for raw, packaging and device materials sourcing.

“At the end of it we want to improve access to healthcare in Kenya as patients get incentivised to save for healthcare on the Akiba ya Roho,” he added.

Dr Lioy was speaking in Nairobi on Monday during the launch of Akiba ya Roho.

More deaths

The Non-Communicable Diseases Alliance in Kenya (NCDAK) warns that hypertension, among other NCDs like diabetes and heart disease, will rise to become the major cause of death in the country by 2020.

“The diseases represent almost 15 per cent of total deaths in Kenya every year,” said NCDAK chairman Prof. Gerald Yonga.

“Hypertension is the most crucial heart condition in the country, as its major cause is lifestyle or behavioural risk factors such as foods that are very high in salt, fat and sugar and low in vegetables and fruits.”

Lack of exercises is also a major risk factor for hypertension and diabetes.

PharmAccess country director, Millicent Olulo, said the provider is leveraging on high mobile penetration in the country to offer health financing solutions to “those who think of healthcare as a last resort”.

“When a relative calls for medical help, you are never sure if the M-pesa money you send them is actually used for healthcare or to buy unga. With Akiba ya Roho, you are sure that money is used for the intended purpose,” she said.

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