Most hospitals in Kenya treat the sick. However, two doctors have set up a clinic for healthy families looking to undergo regular medical check-ups to catch diseases early or just to learn how to be in good shape.
Family medicine specialists Dr Hans-Ake Soderberg and Dr Abdullahi Omar who opened the lifestyle clinic in Nairobi’s Parklands say regular check-ups can ease the public health burden, giving Kenyans longer productive lives.
Their Swedsom clinic has a laboratory, which Dr Soderberg says, helps rule out various illnesses.
Lifestyle clinics are gradually becoming the norm as insurers require clients to undergo medical checks when renewing their covers.
Dr Omar says they aim to inculcate the check-up culture among Kenyans. In the clinic, clients are taught what meals should be on the family dining tables based on nutritional values and its impact on their overall health.
“We want people to come to the clinic to improve their eating habits, learn how to exercise and master the art of not binge eating and drinking,” says Dr Soderberg, a family medicine trainer with 40 years experience.
The clinic does basic laboratory tests on the stool, blood and saliva, the result are analysed and the client gets a lifestyle audit.
Besides doing diagnostic tests, they listen to personal stories on marital relationships, happenings within families and at the workplace that could lead to stress, depression and even ailments.
“Some patients go to hospitals with stomach pains but on closer scrutiny, a doctor finds the illness is stress-related,” says Dr Soderberg.
“Now all ailments should be treated with medicines. A change of lifestyle can deter occurrence of hereditary ailments. Where patients are obese, we could put them under an exercise regime that we shall monitor until their health is restored,” adds Dr Omar.
The doctors have also made the check-ups a family affair that they create a medical profile for the entire family.
“We then advise them on how to living healthy every time they visit us. This leads to early diagnosis of life-threatening conditions where patients are treated at a much lower cost than it currently is when detection of terminal ailments is discovered later,” says 55-year-old Dr Omar, who has been a primary healthcare specialist for 17 years.
Dr Soderberg says the clinic will also manage existing conditions such as diabetes and heart ailments.
“This is the trend back in Europe, the US and in other developed countries where citizens are required by law to seek medical check-ups before receiving their insurance covers. This makes everyone health conscious,” he says.
Dr Omar says they will also create a platform for training family medicine specialists in East Africa and open more clinics.
“Most ailments can be prevented through living healthy but people lack the information to help them do so. Very few know occupational hazards have an impact on our lives. Back in Sweden, every worker must go for medical check-up annually,” says Dr Soderberg.