Every community in Kenya has certain tales of how treatments were conducted. At the centre of these tales are the traditional birth attendants (midwifes) who could brace the cold and other health risks to save two lives- the mother and the baby. Remote areas in this country may have known such people, who mostly comprise elderly women as the first and last resort in their remedy for maternal healthcare. Their efforts are laudable because a number of baby boomers and millenials born in 1940s to late 1980s may have been born in the hands of the midwives. It was a blessing having them. But owing to lack of facilities and proper medical procedures, success rate may have not been comparable to modern maternal healthcare.
In certain circumstances, there could be proper healthcare services but families resort to using the traditional methods because of financial limitations. Others cite cultural values where male medics are dreaded and considered unwanted in the labour rooms, and therefore midwives are the 'safest.'
Perhaps the best bet to cushion the financial burdens of various impoverished families that cannot afford proper healthcare is the NHIF Linda Mama initiative. This is a government funded project which is aimed at ensuring that the mothers and infants have access to quality and affordable healthcare services. It does this by strengthening various areas in the healthcare sector. One of such areas is growing the numbers of birth attendants and providing facilities, thereby scaling down the infant mortality rates.
Access and services
There is nothing that expectant mothers require more than proper medical care. And if they can access quality services cheaply, the better. But the masterstroke that makes Linda Mama initiative a gem in healthcare is that it is free-the beneficiaries do not pay for the cover or services accredited to the facility.
Mothers that delivered under traditional care could be checked before birth but upon delivery, the risks could be more pronounced because of lack of facilities, drugs and human expertise. As opposed to that, this NHIF program is a cut above such system and even many other healthcare covers. This assertion stems from the fact that it covers various areas which enables mothers to undergo safe delivery.
Such areas include Antenatal Care, at least four focused antenatal visits per woman, monitoring fetal and maternal wellbeing to avert complications and still births, antenatal Profile to help monitor the development, preventative Services Including tetanus toxoid immunization, deworming, iron and folic acid supplements, prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV and AIDS, outpatient services for treatment of medical conditions related to pregnancy and inpatient services for treatment of medical conditions pertaining to pregnancy in accredited Hospitals Category A and B that have the cover.
Delivery care, Post-natal care, newborn and neonatal care including pre-term births 48 hours after birth for mothers. Immunization services which takes place within 4-6 weeks as per KEPI schedule and family planning services for mothers. Women have not been spared when it comes to cancer problem. It virtually affects the less fortunate and the affluent and this calls for reliable scheme that can provide mitigation measures. Therefore, within 1-2 weeks after birth, there is the screening of cervical cancer, sexually transmitted infections, and tuberculosis.
The convenience in such a service may not be just about the price, services or geographical locations of the activities. Processes involved matter a lot. As for the case of this project, that women above 18 years can be registered with just an Identity Card is a plus for the beneficiaries. Those below 18 years are registered under the care of their guardians. An indication that the country could even reduce deaths that result from complications in teenage pregnancies. This can be aided by accessing the forms provided by health insurance cover NHIF offices or their website.
When the elderly get what is due for them
People often say that the values of a society can be assessed based on how it treats the elderly. In most cases people think of food, clothing and company as the only requirements for the elderly. But one thing is certain that these people are past their prime and their bodies are delicate, they are like babies whose immune systems are developing. For their vulnerability, some health insurance providers have acted shy by somewhat alienating them, for fear of shouldering the medical cost.
A proper healthcare system must focus on the elderly persons and persons with disabilities by ensuring their well-being. A question may be asked-how can this be achieved? Yes. This is possible through a structured healthcare cover program, some sort of a subsidy program. A similar cover is provided by the NHIF. Dubbed 'Supa-Cover' scheme, the initiative is jointly funded by the World Bank and the government of Kenya. In their case, the focus is on the elderly people above 70 years and those living with severe disability. It is an edifice of the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection where the main objective is to provide affordable and quality healthcare to the special named groups.
Access and services
Like other areas, such healthcare program needs to address health problems expansively. As for the case of NHIF there are various areas like General consultation (though limited to NHIF accredited providers), diagnosis and treatment of common diseases, prescribed laboratory and x-ray check-up services, drug administration and dispensing as per KEPH for level of care, health education for conditions, treatment of sexually transmitted diseases (which can be common at this age due to poor hygiene or suppressed immune system), referral for specialized services.
The other interesting and pertinent areas include services such as Radiological Services (encompassing X-rays, MRI and CT-Scan). There are Oncological Services for managing cancers (Chemotherapy, radiotherapy and brachytherapy for cervix and prostate cancer). Renal Dialysis and Kidney Transplant; and Surgical Package where both major and minor surgeries are conducted. Lastly, patients can be referred for overseas treatment if such services are not available in the country.