Access to basic healthcare in Kenya is still a challenge to majority poor and increasingly, the low income earners who have to juggle to make ends meet and face the demands for high cost of living. It is said that only 1 percent of Kenyans are covered by contributory schemes meaning that most people will resort to seeking contributions from friends and family whenever there is a medical emergency, while others will self-medicate with dire consequences sometimes leading to death. In efforts to ease the health care challenges facing the poor and vulnerable populations, an innovative mobile based platform M-KADI has been developed by Changamka Micro Health Limited, an integrated health financing company that utilizes an electronic platform, accessible by mobile phones, to facilitate the financing of healthcare services for the working poor in Kenya.
M-KADI specifically targets maternity and outpatient care and qualifies 50% discount on antenatal and postnatal care with at least 10% discount on delivery at listed participating providers. This is a welcome relief for expectant mothers who would only have otherwise been covered only during delivery under the ‘free maternity’ services in public health facilities provided by the Kenyan government. Registration is free and contributions made can be as low as Ksh. 100 ($1.14) making it viable for low income earners most of whom can’t afford medical insurance. These contributions and subsequent top ups are sent via M-Pesa – Safaricom mobile based monetary transfer, that acts as a wallet for pre-paid purchases of health care whenever there is a need.
To boost this noble project, UNDP Kenya has partnered Kenya Investment Authority to support Changamka Micro Health Limited in accrediting new clinics that will offer health care services at affordable rate, train community health workers and assist in creating awareness and dissemination for good maternal and proper health care support as well as recruiting new members. This is part of the implementation of the Inclusive Market Development Project, which involves developing commercially viable business models that engage poor people on the demand side as clients and customers and on the supply side as employees, producers and business owners, with the ultimate aim of producing outcomes that benefit those at the bottom of the pyramid.
Speaking during the launch ceremony in Kayole, A low cost housing estate in Nairobi, UNDP Kenya Country Director, Maria-Threase Keating appreciated Kenya’s’ vibrant and growing private sector and voiced UNDP’s commitment in working with partners to promote sustainable development and poverty reduction. She appreciated the Kenyan Government efforts in improving health care by introducing ‘free maternity’ services in all public health facilities in the country. ‘We all know how important it is that we collectively move forward in addressing the remaining challenges of Millennium Development Goals here in Kenya especially MDG 4 and 5 which relate to reducing infant mortality and maternal mortality’. She said.
The launch event was attended by Nairobi County Executive Committee Member in Charge of Trade, Industiralisation, Coop Development and Tourism, Ann Othoro, UNDP Kenya Country Director, Maria-Threase Keating, Managing Director KenInvest, Dr. Moses Ikiara, Changamka Executive Director, Zacharia Oloo, representatives from PSI, GoK, CBO,CSO, media, religious, women and youth groups.
At present new partnership formed with Population Services International and their Tunza franchises which will address the sustainability of UNDP Kenya support and will enable the expansion of the initiative to Nyanza and Western regions of Kenya.