Micro-insurer unveils free medical camps
only 25% of Kenyans have medical insurance. Micro-insurance provider blames this on perceptions, promises to change situation as it launches series of free medical camps
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Local micro-insurance provider, Insurance for All (IFA), has launched a series of free medical camps in Nairobi. The first medical camp took place over the weekend in Kangemi, an informal settlement in the outskirts of Nairobi that is home to more than 100,000 people.
The medical camp reached about 700 people and provided free screening for blood sugar, Body Mass Index, blood pressure as well as HIV testing and counselling. The company targets to reach at least 3000 Kenyans by end year through free medical camps in Kariokor, City Stadium, Dagoretti, Kawangware, Kasarani, Korogocho and Kariobangi.
The campaign, dubbed Bidii Iendelee Na AfyaPoa, will lay special emphasis on non-communicable diseases, such as hypertension, diabetes and cancer, whose prevalence rates across all income groups in Kenya is increasing at an alarming rate. The campaign also aims to equip Kenyans, especially those working in the informal sector, with knowledge and tools to manage their health more effectively and affordably.
“Our message is simple and clear: good health is a critical ingredient of a successful hustle or business, even if it’s in the informal sector. You should invest in your health just the same way you invest in your hustle or business through training, the acquisition of assets or the marketing of your products,” said IFA Chief Executive, John Paul noting that “you can’t separate good health from success.”
The executive cited the fact that medical insurance in Kenya is still seen as an unnecessary, annual purchase for those with “extra money” rather than a tool to protect and enhance earnings. Only 25% of Kenyans have health insurance, according to data from the Ministry of Health.
This low medical insurance penetration, John Paul explained, is not the result of low incomes or poor product design. “We have micro insurance products today to cater for all income segments. The low uptake is therefore the result of misconceptions about health insurance,” he continued. “People need to see medical cover for what it truly is – a tool that complements their hard work and positively contributes to their welfare”
Medical bills and incapacitation due to illness are key contributors to poverty in Kenya. Data from the Ministry of Health indicates that 1.5 million people slip below the poverty line annually due to medical bills. Increasing medical insurance uptake will not only result in better health outcomes, but also have a positive impact on the economy. “Changing perceptions about medical insurance is the silver bullet that create the change we need,” added John Paul.
In keeping with current health trends, IFA through its flagship product AfyaPoa will offer a customer-friendly package for chronic disease management. This is in response to the rise of lifestyle diseases such as hypertension and diabetes as well as cancer, which has become a national concern. The company, whose products are underwritten by financial services giant Sanlam, is set to announce a set of strategic partnerships with key healthcare providers to tackle chronic diseases. It is also set to roll out new products, including a call center to remotely connect patients with doctors and a digital check in system to save customers from the hassle of queuing at hospitals. “We are taking a very customer-centric approach in our strategy,” he concluded.