SHOFCO feted at second Quality Healthcare Kenyan Awards

Shining Hope for Communities has been recognised at the second quality healthcare Kenyan awards after it emerged top in its category to win the award of excellence in improving access to primary healthcare services.

On what was World Health Day, the awards ceremony, held virtually on Wednesday, saw Shining Hope for Communities (Shofco) emerge ahead of rivals Tharaka Nithi County and Penda Health to win the award in the category.

The theme of the awards was Measuring Healthcare Quality for System Improvement and it is here that SHOFCO excelled due to their efforts in improving access to primary healthcare to the urban poor.

This has been possible through the establishment of two-level two facilities in Mathare and Kibera slums with the latter having four other satellite clinics through the initiative of the organisation’s founder and CEO Kennedy Odede.

For Odede, this came from lived experiences, having endured and witnessed extreme poverty as a child while growing up in Kibera, Kenya and Africa’s largest slum.

“The clinics were started from the idea that people should not die because of health care,” Odede said in February while speaking to CNN’s African Voices Changemakers, a programme that focuses on African non-profit leaders with localised solutions.

The organisation established the first clinic in Kibera in 2010 with just a handful of staff and volunteers to treat communicable illnesses but by 2014, the numbers became big, serving 300 patients per day, necessitating expansion.

That is when a major facility was set up in Kibera and in 2015, another one in Mathare. With the numbers rising, there was a need to be closer to the community and that is how the Kibera facility gave rise to satellite clinics in neighbouring Manatha (2014), Kianda (2015), Subra (2017) and Makina (2017).

These satellite clinics were closed temporarily last year due to Covid-19.

“Most of the people who live in Kibera and Mathare are low-income earners and cannot afford health care that is paid for. Because there was no facility that offered a full range of primary health services, they would go to places like Kariobangi, Ruaraka and Pangani which is middle class or at times Muthaiga which is high class and very expensive,” said Emma Ingaiza, Shofco Health Director.

Wednesday’s award was for the specific efforts of the Kibera clinic in improving access to primary healthcare services and the team responsible for this could not hide its joy.

“I would like to thank the Kibera clinic team who have showed immense support not only in this award but in the other key projects. We believe through what we do here, the lives of Kibera people have been impacted,” said Dalmas Omollo, the clinical officer in charge of quality improvement at the Kibera clinic.

The first of its kind in Kenya, Quality Healthcare Kenyan Awards QHKA seeks to award and honour excellence and innovation in the health sector for providing quality patient-centred care. The initiative takes a health systems strengthening approach to improve standards of health service delivery among health professionals by recognising outstanding performance, fostering innovation and the use of information technology and sharing of best practices.

“We have witnessed wide disparities in the quality of services delivered between public and private institutions of similar categorization across counties. I am glad to join the QHKA as we recognise and honour the individuals and organisations who even amidst the COVID-19 pandemic have managed to maintain and improve the quality of standards in the delivery of health services,” said Hon Mutahi Kagwe, the Cabinet Secretary for Health in Kenya.

In his remarks, Dr Patrick Amoth, the Director General at the Ministry of Health urged all counties to regularly monitor the performance of the health sector and address any emerging gaps to meet the high expectations among citizens reiterating that access to health is the right of every Kenyan as enshrined in the Kenya Constitution 2010.”