Young entrepreneurs drive for low cost healthcare in Kenya

                                     Dr. Abdi Mohamed Co-founder and Managing Director, Ladnan Hospital
ALLY JAMAH 

NAIROBI, KENYA: As a Medical student in the University of Nairobi, Dr. Abdi Mohamed's mind was always consumed with the vision of establishing a hospital that offers high-quality but low-cost healthcare that even Kenyans without fat bank accounts or generous insurance covers can access.

 Of most concern to him was how many patients seeking healthcare in the country are often left with two equally unattractive choices between public health facilities, which offer low-cost but poor services, and the high-end private hospitals, which can only be accessed by the wealthy few.

"It was crystal-clear in my mind that they are too few medium-cost private hospitals that many Kenyans can afford. I wanted a middle way between the public facilities and high-cost private hospitals," he says.

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“There are so many people who are willing to pay just a little extra money than what they would normally pay in government facilities to get better healthcare. These people would normally not afford the fees charged in

high-end private hospitals. I therefore saw a gap for moderately priced hospitals that had not been effectively met, “he explains. 

Just two years after graduating in 2008 at the age of 29, Dr. Abdi successfully established a 50-bed modern facility in Nairobi’s Pangani estate at the end of 2011 thanks to his focused efforts in materialising his ambitions. 

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He is the Managing Director of Ladnan Hospital, a modern facility offering a wide range of inpatient and outpatient services including surgery and maternity. It opened its doors two years ago.  Incidentally, the term "Ladnan" means "well being" in Somali language. 

In less than two years, the hospital has established an Intensive Care and High Depency Unit, as well as Dialysis and chemotherapy units. It also has two operating theaters, and general wards as well as a 24hr outpatient service. Moreover it has laboratory, pharmacy and radiology unit with x-ray and ultrasound service.

The theaters are equipped to carry out general surgeries, Obstetric/Gynecological, Orthopedic and Neurosurgery.

The hospital has four general doctors, ten resident nurses and large number consultants who are used as per need including gynecologists, surgeons, physicians, pediatricians. 

The hospital has also established a branch in Wajir County which offers both inpatient and outpatient services. It has already been accredited by most health insurance companies in the ciuntry. 

After graduation, Dr. Abdi had served in Malindi District Hospital for two years, including the mandatory one year internship before he could qualify to be a registered medical doctor. 

"At the end of my 2nd year, I decided to quit my job and concentrated on establishing a hospital. I put together the idea and made a pitch to several would-be investors, persuading them to put their money in the project assuring them that it will pay off," recalls Dr. Abdi.

“Initially, the investors didn't’t take me that seriously. I guess they thought I was too young to execute such a big project. I was 29, years old then,” he recalls chuckling. 

"But eventually I was able to convince them that demand for a fully-fledged, low-cost hospital was high in Pangani and the whole Eastlands region of Nairobi, where the majority of the city's population lives. They bought the idea wholeheartedly," he adds. 

In line with his vision to provide affordable health services, Dr. Abdi is trying his best to keep prices down and offer a real alternative to other private hospitals whose services are known to cost an arm and a leg.

For instance, Ladnan charges Sh2, 500 for a bed per night and NHIF pays Sh.1500 out of that compared High-end private hospitals which charge from Sh8, 000 to Sh18,0000 per night. 

Charges for Normal delivery package is Shs. 15,000 and other services are also well below the average of private hospitals in the city.

“We are not interested in making fat profits. We are happy with the small margins we make provided we reach as many people as possible for the hospital to be sustainable," he says. 

Dr. Abdi's choice of Pangani as the location of the hospital was not without good reason. He reckons that such a location allows him to serve the greater Eastlands area, where many middle-income families lack the good hospitals they can afford. These areas include Doonholm, Kayole, Buruburu, Eastleigh, Komarock and Embakasi.  

“People in Eastland of Nairobi looking for good hospitals charging moderate fees have to go to othert parts of the city to get them. They are mostly served by government facilities like Mama Lucy Kibaki Hospital in Kayole or Pumwani Maternity whose services may not meet their standards. That's why we set up Ladnan in Pangani which is easily accessible to them," he says. 

Dr. Abdi also maintains a strong online presence at www.ladnan.org to interact with people making treatment enquiries or consultants seeking partnerships. Early this year, the hosputal wad able to partner with medical specialists from India who came to the country to offer free diagnosis on a variety of conditions including heart disease, kidney complications among others. 

To boost affordable healthcare in the country, Dr. Abdi calls for low-cost private hospitals to establish a strong network across the country saying this will boost their impact and exert pressure on other hospitals to keep their charges down. 

He also believes that hospital owned and managed by doctors are more capable of keeping charges within reasonable ranges as compared to hospitals owned by general businessmen, who are interested in making profits only” 

“My wish is to see the day when any Kenyan who is sick can walk into a hospital either private or public and get the treatment without worrying about the costs. That can only be achieved through a universal or micro insurance cover. Before that happens, high hospital charges will continue to impoverish many families," he says as his parting shot.

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Buru Buru Obstetric/Gynecological Nairobi