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Hope rekindled for sick, distraught woman

Director of Dropping Center, a non-profit organization Ms. Catherine Boyani Oloo Aringo. The Organization has been appointed by National Authority for the Campaign against Drug Abuse (NACADA) to identify poor families in Nakuru whose members are suffering from terminal illnesses. Identified families will receive specialized medical attention and have their monthly NHIF Contributions paid by NACADA
Photo by Dennis Rasto

She is poor, sick and reeling under the burden of hopelessness. She is persistently uncertain where her next meal will come from.
Nearly all her neighbours here at Kiratina Village within Nakuru East Sub-County have borne the horrendous effects of Covid-19 and are of little help. The pandemic has disrupted their financial stability.
Meet Margaret Wambui who in July 2004, was diagnosed with a disease she had never heard about. After years of pain and a search for treatment that started during her teenage years, doctors told her she had Rheumatoid Arthritis.
The condition, which was initially characterized by widespread pain and stiffness in joints, fatigue, memory and sleep issues, has now confined the 43-year-old mother of three to a wheelchair.
Ng’ang’a Macharia, her husband, ekes out a living doing menial jobs. Of great concern to the couple is that they can neither access basic health care services rolled out by the County government nor afford to pay the bare minimum National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) monthly contribution of Sh500.
“My husband is a casual labourer. Meeting the basic needs of our three children has proven to be an onerous task. To us, setting aside the Sh500 monthly contribution for the NHIF Medical Insurance scheme is not only beyond reach but a luxury,” offers the frail Wambui.
They have shunned the Nakuru Level 5 Teaching and Referral Hospital situated only two kilometers away on grounds that its charges are beyond them.
“We always opt to seek medical care at the Lanet County health facility which is 4kms away from this village. Unfortunately, the centre cannot handle specialized or complicated cases. They charge us Sh100, which caters for all processes a patient undergoes including outpatient card, laboratory tests and prescription drugs. At the level 5 hospital we pay for all the said services separately making it a very exorbitant affair,” says Ms. Wambui.
Fast forward to two weeks later, we revisit her and this time it is celebrations galore at the couple’s home. The pair is elated and in high spirits after the National Authority for the Campaign against Drug Abuse (NACADA) announced that besides paying for her NHIF monthly bills, it will also foot her medical expenses.
“I’m so overwhelmed. My heart is full of joy. God is faithful. I still do not know how to express the joy that is running in my heart. I feel much better; I feel strong despite the illness.
I have faith that I’m going to make it. Blessings to NACADA who have come to the aid of my family and my treatment; it shall be well,” she says.
Wambui counts herself lucky for being enrolled in the program that is funded by well-wishers from the United States of America through NACADA targeting 16 families from each of the 47 counties whose members are suffering from terminal illnesses and are unable to access medical care due to poverty.
NACADA is working with Dropping Center, a non-profit organization involved in rehabilitating former drug addicts to identify deserving cases in Nakuru.
Executive Director to Dropping Center Ms. Catherine Boyani Oloo Aringo says beneficiaries are identified after thorough vetting that involves local leaders and agents of national government to ensure that only deserving cases benefit.
Ms. Aringo said through NHIF coverage Ms. Wambui will now access specialized medical attention and physiotherapy at the Nakuru Level 5 Teaching and Referral hospital.
“Wambui is the first among the 16 intended beneficiaries in Nakuru County who have qualified for the program. There is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis. But clinical studies indicate that anti-inflammatory drugs can relieve pain and reduce inflammation. We hope the drugs will reduce progression of rheumatoid arthritis and save the joints and other tissues from permanent damage,” stated the liaison officer.
She said the program is also tailored to free heads of households to engage in other income generating activities instead of concentrating on looking after their sick relatives who are unable to get treatment due to lack of money or NHIF cover.
Ms. Wambui says that she is optimistic that her condition will improve enough to enable her resume her second-hand clothes business. She states: “Medication is very costly but am now thankful that NACADA has alleviated my suffering.”
Macharia who has been fending for all his wife’s needs is upbeat that NACADA’s intervention will now enable him to look for a better paying job as previously he had to engage in menial jobs in the vicinity as he had to keep a close eye on her.
“The initiative will uplift many poor families who waste many hours taking their relatives to hospital or staying at home looking after them.
We deeply appreciate the government’s concern in ensuring Universal Health Care benefits even to the poorest members of the society. Nevertheless, the reality is Sh500 is beyond reach for many families here. We appeal to policy makers to revise the amount downwards say to Sh200,” suggests Macharia.
By Jane Ngugi/Dennis Rasto

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