Airtel Kenya has partnered with First Lady Margaret Kenyatta through her Beyond Zero initiative to accelerate achievement of Universal Health Coverage in the country. Airtel has donated Kshs. 2.6 million towards the first“Free Medical Safari”, held in Narok County which will see the residents of Narok and its environs access specialized services such as fistula repair surgeries, cancer screening, eye care for the elderly as well as orthopedic clinic and screening for heart diseases in children.
Universal Health Coverage (UHC), according to the World Health Organization is aimed at ensuring that people from all walks of life get to receive the health services they need without suffering financial hardship. Kenya’s UHC programme seeks to focus on preventable and primary health care whilst reducing high out-of-pocket expenditure for Kenyans whilst seeking medical services. Areas of great concern also include reproductive, maternal, neonatal, child and adolescent health care.
(TOP: Airtel Kenya MD, Prasanta Das Sarma – center – converses with First Lady Margaret Kenyatta and CS for Health, Sicily Kariuki during the Free Medical Safari in Narok County).
One of the key issues being addressed at the medical safari is obstetric fistula, which is a medical condition that affects poor rural women and girls across the continent. It presents itself as a hole in the birth canal as a result of childbirth. This can be between vagina and rectum, ureter or bladder, which leads to uncontrolled, continuous leakage of urine and/or fecal matter.
It is estimated that there are over 1,000 new cases of obstetric fistula every year in Kenya whereas there are only 10 health facilities across the country that have the capacity to repair fistula and only 7.5% of women suffering from this scourge that can access treatment for the same. Women who experience fistula are ostracized and disowned by their families and communities. Most of them face shame and isolation and social segregation.
Airtel’s contribution is towards the fistula repair surgeries for the women in Narok that will be undertaken by AMREF. Airtel will also offer free SMS broadcasts that will educate the communities on the causes of fistula, how to prevent it as well as where to seek medical care for the same. The communication campaign will also seek to demystify the disease in order to stop the stigmatization of the affected in the community.
Speaking during the official launch of the medical safari, Prasanta Das Sarma, the Airtel Kenya MD, said: “We are delighted to be partnering with H.E, the First Lady of the Republic of Kenya in supporting her efforts that are geared towards the realization of Universal Health Coverage which is paramount for all Kenyans. At Airtel, we uphold a belief in shared responsibility to the society therefore we are honored to be part of this great team that is making a difference in the community and we commit to continue partnering with like-minded individuals and organizations that continue to invest heavily in community capacity building that will empower, enable and unlock the potential of many to succeed and create wealth.”
In 2015, Airtel donated a mobile clinic worth Kshs 10 million to support the First Lady’s Beyond Zero campaign which aims to reduce high rates of maternal and child mortality in Kenya. Airtel has also supported the Beyond Zero Campaign by sponsoring its employees and customers to participate in the First Lady’s half Marathon.
Giving her address, First Lady Margaret Kenyatta lauded the various partners who took part in making the inaugural medical safari a success. “I want to applaud the partners represented here because you have demonstrated that public and private partnerships are possible. It is a true statement of what partnerships and solidarity for a common cause can do,” she said.