Health & Fitness

CBDs changing medical entrepreneurs’ inclines

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Nairobi City skyline. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • In the CBD, a few once coveted premises are now vacant and landlords have had to adjust terms to retain or woo tenants.
  • The CBD, formerly a coveted location for medical entrepreneurs, seems to have had a period of low attraction of doctor owned clinics.
  • Part of the reason being the attendant crowds, dilapidated, inaccessible buildings and garbage may have made it hard for patients to spend time in certain areas.

One of the noticeable impact of Covid-19 financial shock and public health containment measures, has been limitation of movement, including workers’. Financially, most hard-hit business, have had to close shop or cut operations by adopting work-from-home protocols.

In the CBD, a few once coveted premises are now vacant and landlords have had to adjust terms to retain or woo tenants. The CBD, formerly a coveted location for medical entrepreneurs, seems to have had a period of low attraction of doctor owned clinics. Part of the reason being the attendant crowds, dilapidated, inaccessible buildings and garbage may have made it hard for patients to spend time in certain areas.

Historically, standalone doctor practices seemed to have been the first ones to establish in the CBD. As evolution of the private sector, birthed franchised groups that seemed to have flourished in the last decade. Of the top franchises, Aga Khan, AAR, Mater Hospital, Avenue Group all are present in the CBD.

In the last year or so, newer franchises such as Equity Afia Group and most recently, Penda Health have all opened clinics in the CBD, perhaps a reflection of growing confidence in the patient dynamics within the zone.

A curious observation is the higher density of doctors’ premises along less busy streets. Particularly for specialists, whose practices’ outnumber non-specialists 1:4 in our sampled pool. The area bounded by Kimathi Street, Harambee Avenue, Biashara and Loita streets mark zones for higher density of medical facilities despite having lower foot traffic. For entrepreneur doctors, ambiance rather than foot traffic seems to be a higher priority and by extension, the potential clientele frequenting such streets.

In contrast, CBD pharmacies tend to be clustered around high pedestrian traffic areas. Moi Avenue, River Road, Tom Mboya Street and Racecourse roads having the highest density of pharmacies.

As data analytic become more and more used in decision matrix for premises selection, the CBD makes for an interesting demographic group. For one, it has the highest density of employed people and thus more likely to have medical insurance or ability to pay out of pocket.

What is also interesting has been the premises characteristics. With many pharmacies preferring front row ground floor business, most doctors occupy upper floors with quiet environments.

Of note, however, is the migration out of the CBD to areas like Upper Hill, Nairobi Hospital, Parklands and inside malls as well as neighbourhood shopping centres. Past decline in city building and street orderliness as well as traffic may have been reasons.

With ongoing infrastructure transformation by the Nairobi Metropolitan Services improving CBD ambiance and, security, hopefully the vibrant medical centres can be lured back into the CBD. To achieve this, the Nairobi Central Business District association NCBDA, realtors and the NMS should work together.