KIRINYAGA – HealthX Africa, in collaboration with Accelerate UHC and the Kenya Union of the Blind, has launched a medical assistance initiative in Kirinyaga County, focusing on enhancing healthcare accessibility for visually impaired individuals. This effort aims to integrate comprehensive healthcare support through HealthX Africa's telehealth services for members of the Kirinyaga Branch of the Kenya Union of the Blind.
According to Kenya News Agency, 2.2% of Kenyans live with disabilities, with a significant proportion experiencing challenges in accessing healthcare. Visual, hearing, and communication impairments particularly affect women and those in rural areas. Despite Kenya's robust policy frameworks addressing health equity, actual implementation of these policies to provide tangible solutions remains a challenge. Alarmingly, 50% of people with disabilities have difficulty accessing healthcare, leading to a disease burden nearly 10% higher than that of the general population.
Roy Boys, CEO of HealthX Africa, disclosed that the Kirinyaga Branch members face mobility challenges, resulting in increased logistics costs and delays in seeking medical care. Often reliant on guides for hospital visits, many members postpone healthcare appointments in the absence of assistance. Boys emphasized the importance of digital innovations like telehealth in moving towards inclusive healthcare.
HealthX Africa, along with Accelerate UHC and partners including the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) and the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), is committed to providing telehealth services to this community. Telemedicine, recognized for its potential to reduce costs and improve access, becomes particularly crucial in overcoming barriers like transportation expenses, especially during pandemics.
As part of this initiative, the Kenya Union of the Blind will have access to unlimited virtual doctor consultations, nutrition counselling, and counselling psychology through a toll-free number. Additionally, the County Government of Kirinyaga, represented by Governor Anne Waiguru, has pledged to support people with disabilities, emphasizing the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusivity in healthcare.
Kadu Titi, liaison person for Accelerate UHC, highlighted the project's goal of creating an inclusive healthcare system. HealthX Africa seeks to adapt and improve its telemedicine services to cater to the needs and preferences of Kenyans with different disabilities.
John Muriuki, Chairperson of the Kenya Union of the Blind, expressed gratitude for the medical support. He pointed out the privacy and mental wellness challenges faced by the community in traditional healthcare settings, where they often require a relative to accompany them. The telehealth option offers a more private and accessible healthcare alternative.