The Standard Group Plc is a multi-media organization with investments in media platforms spanning newspaper print operations, television, radio broadcasting, digital and online services. The Standard Group is recognized as a leading multi-media house in Kenya with a key influence in matters of national and international interest.
  • Standard Group Plc HQ Office,
  • The Standard Group Center,Mombasa Road.
  • P.O Box 30080-00100,Nairobi, Kenya.
  • Telephone number: 0203222111, 0719012111
  • Email: [email protected]

I started by converting a van into a mobile clinic

Health & Science
 Dr Amit Thakker. [Courtesy]

Dr Amit Thakker had toyed with the idea of being an engineer or pilot but his grandfather, a businessman, noticed his passion for helping people and pushed him towards medicine.  

Little wonder that he was admitted to the University of Nairobi, School of Medicine, for his Bachelors degree in Medicine and Surgery in 1987 with two years spent at Chiromo and three at the Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH).

Dr Thakker had been told if he wanted to be a good doctor then KNH was idea as it was “a goldmine of patients” and he actually planned to start off his career at KNH after graduation.

“That was the turning point of my career because mid-way through my internship year, I learned that affordable health care in Nairobi was literally absent,” he says, recalling the time when one of his friends was admitted and it took many hours of waiting at Kenyatta National Hospital before getting admitted for lab results.

“We opted to move him to another hospital across the road and the difference was startling,” says Dr Thakker who shortly ventured into ‘corporate health services’ as a van doctor, attending to patients from their working premises.

He would ask employers: “would you rather your staff leave to see a doctor or have a doctor see them there?”

Most saw the convenience of the doctor coming over which was how he bought a van, converted it into a mobile clinic and began attending to sick employees in Ruaraka and Industrial Area in Nairobi.

Simple outpatient plan

The van had a simple couch and a small cabinet for pharmaceutical products.

Dr Thakker viewed it as a simple outpatient plan for corporate and home visits attending to injuries, bruises simple urinary tract infections, and muscle aches and pains.  

Dr Thakker did not know he was pioneering the integration of the private sector into the health system in Africa besides spearheading the public-private partnerships.

It was then that he established Avenue Healthcare in 1995 with the idea of taking healthcare to the people.

The over 600 clients he got in less than a year were converted into a membership program before expanding his clinics then hospitals in Nairobi, Kisumu and Thika.

Equitable health systems

This saw him get awarded the ‘Best Male Entrepreneur’ from Rotary International in 1999 two years after starting his venture which he planned to spread across Africa.

Dr Thakker, recipient of the ‘Best CEO’ award in 2007 by Titans Global is now the Executive chair, Africa Health Business and the President of Africa Healthcare Federation.

He has also served as chair of the Kenya Medical Association and the Kenya Healthcare Federation.

Dr Thakker has since sold his stake in Avenue Group of Hospitals and exited its board, but he serves as part of the advisory team.

He now chairs the Africa Health Business as in any case “I always wanted to go continental. I started in Kenya and I needed to let go so as to divest into other countries and the exit was worthwhile.”

Part of his work at Africa Health Business is to ensure there are deeper investments and a stronger private health sector with improved, affordable and equitable health systems.

“We are looking at self-sufficiency in Africa and if the private sector invests, the public funds can do better for those who are unable to afford it, that way we will see more allocation of funds from the African governments towards the 15 percent required for health,” he explains.

In other words, the 15 percent given by the government will cater to half the population while the other half will be bankrolled by the private sector.

Indeed, making a difference in the healthcare system has been his driving force and all the changes made have been gratifying.

Dr Thakker’s advice to medics interested in investing in the healthcare business is to always keep costs low as saved costs are transferred to patients which results in affordable healthcare.

Though a busy man, he says he has “enjoyed a good work-life harmony and the support from my family has enabled me to achieve what I set out to do.”

Dr Thakker says he always visited and attended to all school functions of his two daughters besides finding time for squash and golf, his favourite sports.   

Related Topics


Trending Now


Popular this week