, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 5 – Use of mobile technology to access healthcare is fast gaining momentum in the country.
Health consultant Josea Rono says that more than half of Kenya’s population earning less than Sh250 has access to a mobile phone. This in turn makes it possible for many to use mobile money platforms to conveniently mobilise funds for healthcare especially for the low income earners.
“Mobile money platforms can be used to conveniently mobilize funds for healthcare during an emergency,” said Rono adding that “faster access to care can prevent the deterioration of health conditions reducing the costs of treatment while offering safe and convenient options for payment.
Mobile money has made saving for healthcare more attainable for low income earners through incentives such as dedicated healthcare accounts, saving goals and bundled services.
“Through mobile money, case study companies have realised a number of positive outcomes at the bottom of the pyramid (BoP),”said Rono adding: “Including increased access to quality healthcare, increased savings and a wider range of health insurance products.”
However it’s worth noting that there is significant difference in access to healthcare across socio-economic levels.
The 2013 Kenya Household Health Expenditure and Utilization Survey demonstrated that health insurance coverage among low income earners is estimated at only 2.9pc compared to 41.5pc among the wealthy.
Within the insured fraction of the low income earners, the NHIF covers 92.5pc, while private health insurance providers and community-based health insurance schemes cover 3.6pc and 3.4pc.
“This statistics imply that low income earners are more vulnerable to the impoverishing consequences of ill health,” stated Rono.
“Households without insurance coverage are often forced to pay substantial out of pocket medical bills,” explained Rono “These payments lower their living standards and may even push them in to poverty.”
According to the mobile for development impact tracker and GSM, the number of mobile-enabled healthcare products and services tripled between 2009 and 2014.
“Mobile money’s increasing relevance for expanding access to health care at the bottom of the pyramid (BoP) has been driven by the accessibility of mobile phones and acceptance of mobile money as a payment method,” said Rono.