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Economy

Free medical camps reveal rising inequality

medical camp
A medical camp n Eldoret town. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Doctors offering free services during medical campaigns have expressed concerns on the hundreds of Kenyans showing up at the camps with life threatening diseases in their advanced stages, revealing embedded inequalities in healthcare in Kenya.

Reports on five medical camps given to the Business Daily by the Kenya Medical Pharmacists and Dentists Union and Beyond Zero showed that at some outreach sites, as many as 10 percent of women screened showed signs of cervical cancer. Siaya County reported 9.7 percent cervical cancer cases, nearly double the national average for the cancer.

The camps were held in Siaya, Narok and Kisumu counties where more than 12,000 people were examined.

Children were found to be living with neurological conditions such as hydrocephalus and cerebral palsy that they may have acquired during pregnancy or birth.

While there have been many free services for women with obstetric fistula, the camp also performed several reconstructive surgeries on women affected by the condition. This is an opening that occurs between the vagina and bladder when a woman undergoes prolonged obstructed labour. This often leaves a woman unable to control urine or poop and many are left ostracised.

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The participants and organisers of the outreach programme— nongovernmental organisation and private foundations— also point to how poor Kenyans have had to cling to token medical services as public healthcare fails them.

Three people were seen in Narok by an outreach in Narok organized by Beyond Zero, Amref Health Africa and several cancer foundations.

Of the 324 women screened for breast and cervical cancers, four tested positive for cervical cancer while one man out of 199 examined was sent for further check-up for prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer

In Kisumu, 12 out of the 80 women tested positive for breast and four for cervical cancers. A man was found with prostate cancer and was started on a treatment programme.

Infections in reproductive nature were found and treated immediately in both men and women.

Other cases such as 43 cataract cases in Narok were referred for surgery to be conducted at no cost at partner facilities.

In Kisumu, as many as 42 children under five years and 24 above six were found to be living with sickle cell.

At Beyond Zero’s camp in Kisumu, more than 159 children had cerebral palsy, a neurological problem that limits a child’s cognitive and movement.

Another ten had hydrocephalus, a condition where fluid accumulates in the brain cavity and the head bulges over time.

Dr Tony Ndeda, an orthopaedic and the outreach co-ordinator of the KMPDU medical camps, said that it was “disheartening” to see some of the cases.

“I saw people come to the camp with broken bones, a man with advanced breast cancer… can you imagine that pain?” he said.

“There are people walking around with undiagnosed diabetes and high blood pressure, meaning these are people who would one day collapse and die of stroke at home,” he added.

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