Health & Fitness

Healthcare philanthropy routes and what to check

Locals queue for services at a mobile clinic at Molo Stadium in Nakuru. PHOTO | SULEIMAN MBATIAH
Locals queue for services at a mobile clinic at Molo Stadium in Nakuru. PHOTO | SULEIMAN MBATIAH 

A month ago I attended a survey finding dissemination on “Giving trends in Kenya”. As external donors dry out, more local philanthropists are needed to cover the anticipated vacuum.

According to YETU the disseminators, Kenya’s high net worth individuals are rising as well as corporations’ profits.

The keynote speaker, industrialist and philanthropist Manu Chandaria had an interesting take on how and why to give. His belief is that corporates must institutionalise philanthropy as part of what they do in society.

As a medic my bias is on giving towards health causes, because it directly impacts on life.

Yet this is impractical, so a good balance is to also incorporate other areas. On healthcare philanthropy, donors need to identify channels with maximum impact, least cost and to the recipient’s maximum benefit.

The report shows that manufacturing, ICT/technology, banking and finance are big corporate givers, giving to education and skills development – 49 per cent, health/wellness - 16 per cent, Poverty reduction - 14 per cent, emergency and disasters - four per cent, while environment and food security each got two per cent.

Most Kenyans believe philanthropy covers gaps missed by governments and have given at one point or another. Such individuals often give directly to school fees or medical bills. An emerging form is volunteerism in one’s field of expertise.

As a corporate donor, two questions you should ask are what impact your donation has and over what duration it will last? Do you do a day-long medical camp that leaves beneficiaries in status quo after the drugs end or is it better to support a local clinic deliver same services over a longer timespan by paying a nurse’s salary.

Similarly, you could also pay National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) cover for 100 vulnerable families for a whole year to access health services.

Alternatively supporting a community focused health facility on the ground could ensure it gets on the NHIF panel and benefit from the extra revenue to improve its quality and business sustainability, a more practical strategy in terms of success and longevity.

There is also a dilemma on choosing between a strategic donation versus a direct one. Do you fund an initiative seeking to find out why health systems fail or contribute to a dishevelled system?

An example is deciding between donating equipment or medicine versus running a public health campaign seeking to ensure people remain healthy.

The other challenge is deciding who to give to. The report findings show that small organisations lack the visibility large recipient peers have, but could achieve similar impact. What locks them out is lack of financial and technical capacity corporate donors demand. Supporting them to meet this capacity is also a form of philanthropy.

Whatever route you opt for, ensure it incorporates independent external evidence in evaluating your recipients.