HealthX Africa in collaboration with accelerateUHC & Kenya Union of the Blind set to improve healthcare accessibility in Kirinyaga County

Recognizing the difficulties experienced by visually impaired individuals in accessing healthcare, HealthX Africa in collaboration with accelerateUHC and the Kenya Union of the Blind are actively stepping in to onboard and provide comprehensive healthcare support to members of the Kirinyaga Branch using HealthX Africa’s telehealth services.

People living with disabilities in Kenya confront significant challenges in accessing healthcare. The 2019 census reveals that 2.2% of Kenyans live with disabilities, with mobility disabilities comprising 28.6% of this group. Visual, hearing, and communication-related impairments disproportionately affect women (57.5%) and those in rural areas (80%). While Kenya has established robust policy frameworks to address health equity disparities, translating these policies into tangible solutions remains challenging.

Shockingly, one in two people with disabilities cannot access healthcare, leading to a disease burden nearly 10% higher than the general population.

These statistics were recently brought to life during a needs assessment done by the Kenya Union for the Blind. It was discovered that members of the Kirinyaga Branch encounter obstacles in movement, leading to higher logistics costs and delays in seeking healthcare. Many members require guides to attend hospitals, and when guides are unavailable, some choose to postpone healthcare visits.

“For Kenya to achieve universal health coverage we must cater to individuals that have traditionally been excluded from the healthcare landscape,” HealthX Africa’s CEO, Roy Bore said, “Using digital innovations like telehealth will allow us to be a step closer in making inclusive healthcare a reality.”

Recognizing the transformative potential of telehealth in achieving universal health coverage, HealthX with accelerateUHC, a project of RaHa Solutions, Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), and others, has committed to providing telehealth services to this community. HealthX Africa emphasizes the importance of leveraging technology to create an inclusive and equitable healthcare system. Telemedicine has proven globally to reduce costs, enhance access to providers, and mitigate barriers such as transportation expenses, especially crucial during pandemics.

With this premise, the Kenya Union of the Blind, Kirinyaga Branch members, will have access to comprehensive telehealth services that will encompass unlimited virtual doctor consultations, nutrition counseling, and counseling psychology through the toll-free number. Furthermore, the County government of Kirinyaga has pledged to assist the people with disability with the Governor H.E Anne Waiguru declaring her commitment to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusivity to ensure no part of the society is left behind.

“It is our priority to ensure that Universal health coverage is a reality for all Kenyans, and this project is the first step in creating an inclusive healthcare system,” said accelerateUHC’s Liason person, Kadu Titi.

HealthX Africa is intentional in working with and learning from organizations representing and advocating for the health and rights of people with disabilities and adapting and improving HealthX telemedicine systems and services to meet the needs and preferences of Kenyans living with different disabilities.

John Muriuki, the Chairperson of the Kenya Union of the Blind, appreciated the medical support, saying this is an opportunity given to them to be able to access primary healthcare, especially through their phone. He said: “As a community, we face many challenges. When visiting the hospital, someone has to take you, thus making it difficult for your privacy and mental wellness, with a guide who is probably your relative sitting next to you in some instances. If the guide is not available, we do not go to the hospital. The possibility of accessing a doctor through our own phones without having to buy airtime is the surest way of ensuring universal access to health support. I request accelerateUHC to extend support to all the members of the Kirinyaga Branch, who are 327 members with visual impairments. We appreciate the support of 50 members, but I am appealing for your support to cover all the members. We also request your support for medicine, which will go a long way in ensuring easy and equal access to health”.

“HealthX has given people a medical access card with security features that will be used by people with visual challenges,” Muriuki added.

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