In exploring the “power” dynamics in the health sector, Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) place in Nairobi’s healthcare landscape is uncontestable. Its location has played a pivotal role in influencing the hospital hill area, as arguably Kenya’s premier health cluster. You are more likely to bump into a medic around that strip than anywhere else in Kenya. It also has the highest density of doctors; with close to 1,000 within a two-kilometre radius at any one time.
The reasons are the University of Nairobi Medical School that sprouted around the King George Hospital, now KNH. The Nairobi Hospital, Forces Memorial Hospital and Nairobi West Hospital as well as other private doctors’ office blocks followed later. A smaller satellite cluster around Parklands, incorporating Aga Khan, MP Shah and Avenue hospitals were influenced by the Aga Khan University’s School of Medicine.
The trick, it seems, is the facilitative environment medical schools create, in spurring private health enterprise. Teaching and referral hospitals act as a radius from which the private medical sector grows. Provision of specialised care is a key attraction for patients.
A similar scenario appears looming at the recently opened Kenyatta University Teaching, Referral and Research Hospital (KUTRRH).
Thika Road and the Northern Bypass’ roles in opening up that part of the city, as well as easing commutes for Central Kenya’s satellite townships are notable.
The result is a higher population of commuting as well as patients resident in the surrounding real estate developments.
These two factors jointly, are certain to influence the health care human resources and by extension investments, in the KUTRRH neighbourhoods.
While no top-tier provider has yet established themselves there, this is likely to happen. The first wave is typically public services seeking patients. An excessive inflow of such patients, stimulates demand for an outlet, spurring investments in private medical services.
New developments such as Northlands, Two Rivers and other affluent ones in proximity to Kiambu, means a critical mass of an affluent population exists.
KUTRRH ecosystem is further boosted by proximity to medical schools at JKUAT and MKU, though smaller.
For specialist faculty doctors, ability to cover both the former and Hospital Hill ecosystems will be impossible, confining them to the former.
Moonlighting doctors from surrounding counties also prefer private offices proximately located, so they can return to their principal employment on short notice.
However, an assessment of the area, reveals a dearth of quality office space compared to the hospital hill area. This offers a chance for strategic office real estate developers keen to grab first-mover advantage, because such a scenario will replicate itself.
Need for modern offices for doctors, pharmacies and affiliate medical services closer to the KUTRRH will arise.