HealthX Africa, in partnership with Accelerate UHC and the Kenya Union of the Blind, has provided medical assistance to enhance healthcare accessibility in Kirinyaga County.
Recognising the difficulties experienced by visually impaired individuals in accessing healthcare, the three organisations are actively stepping in to onboard and provide comprehensive healthcare support to members of Kirinyaga Branch using HealthX Africa’s telehealth services.
People living with disabilities confront significant challenges in accessing healthcare. The 2019 census reveals that 2.2% of Kenyans live with disabilities, with mobility disabilities comprising 28.6%.
Visual, hearing, and communication-related impairments disproportionately affect women (57.5%) and those in rural areas (80%).
However, Kenya has established robust policy frameworks to address health equity disparities, but translating these policies into tangible solutions remains challenging.
Shockingly, one in two people with disabilities cannot access healthcare, leading to a disease burden nearly 10% higher than the general population.
HealthX Africa’s Chief Executive Officer, Roy Boys, reported that it was discovered that members of the Kirinyaga Branch encounter obstacles in movement, leading to higher logistics costs and delays in seeking healthcare. Many members require guides to attend hospitals, and when guides are unavailable, some choose to postpone healthcare visits.
“For Kenya to achieve universal health coverage, we must cater to individuals who have traditionally been excluded from the healthcare landscape, and using digital innovations like telehealth will allow us to be a step closer to making inclusive healthcare a reality,” he said.
Recognising the transformative potential of telehealth in achieving universal health coverage, HealthX, with Accelerate UHC, a project of RaHa Solutions, Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), and Adventist Development & Relief Agency (ADRA), has committed to providing telehealth services to this community.
The organisation emphasises the importance of leveraging technology to create an inclusive and equitable healthcare system. Telemedicine has proven globally to reduce costs, enhance access to providers, and mitigate barriers such as transportation expenses, especially during pandemics.
With this premise, the Kenya Union of the Blind will have access to comprehensive telehealth services that will encompass unlimited virtual doctor consultations, nutrition counselling, and counselling psychology through the toll-free number.
Furthermore, the County Government of Kirinyaga has pledged to assist people with disabilities, with Governor Anne Waiguru declaring her commitment to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusivity to ensure no part of society is left behind.
“It is our priority to ensure that universal health coverage is a reality for all Kenyans, and this project is the first step in creating an inclusive healthcare system, said Accelerate UHC’s liaison person, Kadu Titi.
HealthX Africa is intentional in working with and learning from organisations representing and advocating for the health and rights of people with disabilities, adapting and improving the HealthX telemedicine system and services to meet the needs and preferences of Kenyans living with different disabilities.
John Muriuki, the Chairperson of the Kenya Union of the Blind, appreciated the medical support, saying this is an opportunity given to them to be able to access primary healthcare, especially through their phone.
“As a community, we face many challenges. When visiting the hospital, someone has to take you, thus making it difficult for your privacy and mental wellness, with a guide who is probably your relative sitting next to you in some instances. If the guide is not available, we do not go to the hospital, said the chairperson.
According to Muriuki, the possibility of accessing a doctor through their own phones without having to buy airtime is the surest way of ensuring universal access to health support.
He, however, requested to accelerate UHC and extend support to all the members of the Kirinyaga Branch, who are 327 members with visual impairments.
“We appreciate the support of 50 members, but I am appealing for your support to cover all the members. We also request your support for medicine, which will go a long way in ensuring easy and equal access to health. HealthX has given people a medical access card with security features that will be used by people with visual challenges,” said Muriuki.
By David Wandeto