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Flying doctors service opens up to the mass market

By | Jan 31st 2012 | 3 min read
By | January 31st 2012

Amref Flying Doctors, the leading ambulance service provider in East Africa, has unveiled new subscription schemes that target the mass market. Financial Journal’s Jackson Okoth spoke to Chief Executive and Medical Director, Dr Bettina Vadera, on the new service. Excerpts below.

Question: What are some of the challenges facing Kenya in its effort to provide affordable healthcare services?

Answer: One of the biggest challenges in providing healthcare services are the vast distances and the

Amref Flying Doctors Chief Execuitve and Medical Director, Bettina Vadera during the interview. [Photo: EVANS HABIL/STANDARD]

poor infrastructure such as roads. Medical facilities in rural areas are far and few between and are often under-equipped and under-staffed.

Private medical facilities on the other hand are expensive and not an option for the majority of people in Kenya. Emergency medical services are mainly in hands of the private sector and lack of professional providers puts such services out of reach for many.

Most of the individual and group medical insurance schemes have no provision for air evacuation. Why has this been the case?

To evacuate patients by air is expensive. One needs an aircraft, specialised medical equipment, medical experts and experienced air crew.

An air ambulance flight from Mombasa to Nairobi can cost as much as $7,500 (Sh638,000). By excluding this service, medical insurance schemes can save on costs.

How is AMREF Flying Doctors planning to sell this scheme, who is the target and projected uptake figures?

We want to make Maisha available to thousands of people. Our target audience are individuals, families, small groups and corporates.

We are launching an aggressive marketing campaign including advertising as well as direct sales via our newly constituted sales and marketing team.

In addition, we are confident that our e-commerce platform that allows people to subscribe and pay online will make it easy and comfortable for people to enrol.

Why should an individual be motivated to take up AMREF Flying Doctors air ambulance service?

Anybody who has ever been involved in an accident, personally or otherwise, will know how desperate the situation can be if you are injured and there is no proper medical facility near by.

People have lost their lives due to delays in receiving adequate medical care. With the affordable subscription prices that we offer, the Maisha Air Ambulance Scheme should be available for a wide clientele.

You have mentioned a subscription fee of Sh1,800. Is this per month or year?

The subscription fee of Sh1,800 per person per year is applicable for a group of four to six people. This also applies to families.

This fee covers you for one whole year and provides each individual with up to two air evacuation flights from the area of coverage to Nairobi. As an added value this also covers two ground ambulance transfers within Kenya where applicable.

What is the subscription fee?

Our Air Ambulance Scheme comes in four different levels, defined by the area of coverage:

Maisha Bronze covers Kenya only, starting from Sh2,500 for individuals, down to Sh1,000 per person for a large corporate.

Maisha Silver covers Kenya, Tanzania and Zanzibar, starting from Sh4,000 to Sh2800, Maisha Gold covers Kenya, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi, starting from Sh4,500 to Sh3400 and Maisha Platinum covers all of the above plus Ethiopia and South Sudan at Sh9,000.

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