If there is one person who knows about health insurance in Kenya, it is Peter Nduati. He is the Managing Director of Resolution Health, a company that was established just seven years ago, but is already ranked as the second medical insurance provider in Kenya, with a presence in five countries including Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and Sudan.
Capital Lifestyle spoke to Peter Nduati on health, wellness and what Kenyans need to know about healthful lifestyles.
Health vs. Wellness
According to Nduati, in medical insurance speak; health refers to “the curative process”. The provider’s role is to cover those costs associated with illness.
Wellness on the other hand, takes on more of a holistic approach –attention is fixed on the mind, body and soul, and an understanding of what afflicts one’s body, so that we may take steps to maintain health, and remain well. In contrast to the curative process, wellness is a preventative process.
In a South African study, a group under a wellness program had a lower hospital admission rate than the public. This group had open access to exercise, nutrition consultation and psychotherapy. This study, along with other factors, has influenced Nduati and his team at Resolution Health to focus on wellness, as it positively affects the company’s long-term growth and earnings. By keeping people out of hospital, the provider spends less, and ultimately earns more revenue.
Lifestyles of the rich and famous
Resolution Health’s target market are the middle and upper class, and mostly urban. This target group are usually health conscious and educated consumers. They will check the ingredients of any food or medicinal product, before making the decision to purchase and use it. They know what they are allergic to and ask questions before getting on any particular treatment.
Nduati decided to focus on this group and the concerns of its lifestyle, which include stress relief, weight watching and management, diet, and the organic versus genetically modified foods debate.
Nduati’s interest is in investing in the wellness of his members. One area of focus for Nduati is nutrition, teaching his members what they should eat, for example, and the importance of their BMI (Body Mass Index) indicator number.
Nduati takes BMI numbers quite seriously, and gives his members the tools to deal with adverse BMI numbers. If one needs to lose weight, he will put them on a fitness program at a gym or enrol them into a walking group.
He has a consultant nutritionist on hand, Ms Wanjiku Waria who advises his members on what to eat and in which portion, and how to plan their monthly food shopping.
Annual Medical Check-ups –are they necessary?
It is not breaking news that most Kenyans do not go for annual medical check-ups because of cost or simply fear. Fear that they will be diagnosed with an ailment they will not be able to treat or deal with, or one that will make them be disqualified by their provider.
Nduati encourages Kenyans to take a medical check up annually to prevent or avert any illnesses or diseases. A thorough check up should include a physical check-up, a blood check, a lipid (protein) level check, and urinary examination, amongst others.
A check up can reveal borderline diseases, which can be treated or their progress controlled, through a program called chronic disease management.
Common lifestyle diseases in Kenya
According to Nduati, hypertension is the most common lifestyle disease in Kenya, followed by cancer, and then diabetes.
Hypertension manifests more in women in Kenya, while diabetes seems to be common with men. With cancer, the most commonly seen are oral, cervical and skin cancer.
The shocking trend with these diseases is that they are now being seen in the youth in their 20s, 30s and 40s.
What about alcohol?
It is a worrying trend that young and old Kenyan men and even women indulge in alcohol in large quantities. It is almost a way of life to drink.
According to Nduati, alcoholism as a disease is not the problem. What are more concerning are the accidents that occur because of intoxication. Nduati, however, does not rule out that there is an important lack, in Kenya, of substance abuse treatment centres.
There is a lot of information on the Internet pertaining to health and wellness. Nduati’s favourite websites are WebMD where you can quickly find out information on any ailment, simply by entering the symptoms that one is experiencing.
Nduati also recommends the South African site Vitality, however, for local relevance, Nduati recommends the company’s corporate site, that recently re-launched as an information portal. Nduati personally blogs on health and wellness issues.
Eventually, Nduati hopes to achieve an interactive online system, in which users, both individuals and HR Managers can manage their membership, and review their visits. Be well.