Poverty increasing apathy to hospitals

March 27, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 27- High poverty levels are preventing millions of Kenyans across the country from seeking health care, the government said on Friday.

Medical Services Minister Anyang’ Nyong’o said lack of money was now the major reason why people were not seeking treatment and instead went for self medication.

Speaking at the launch of a household health expenditure and utilisation survey, the Minister said a comprehensive National Hospital Insurance scheme that would cater for outpatient treatment would soon be presented to Cabinet for approval.

“When people do not seek health care because they lack money they even endanger those who have money but can seek healthcare,” the Minister noted.

Citing an example of infectious diseases like TB he said: “If someone in your neighbourhood is poor and does not seek help and they suffer from an infectious disease, the sickness of that person will obviously impact on you,” he added.

Professor Nyong’o said the current food crisis had worsened the situation leading to more disease outbreaks due to malnutrition.

“We are seeing certain types of diseases coming up in poor neighbourhoods in urban areas,” he said.

“An example is a disease where you see children with big heads. This means that the mothers don’t take enough folic acid in vegetables when they are pregnant because vegetables are not cheap.”

The Minister also said long distant health facilities were contributing to people’s apathy towards medical care. The World Health Organisation recommends that health facilities should be within a five kilometers distance.

The Household Health Expenditure and utilisation report indicated that malaria was the most common illness amongst hospitalised individuals, accounting for 23 percent of total admissions. Respiratory infections were the next highest reported causes of hospitalisation.

“The cash to pay for hospitalisation bills was provided by friends, relatives and family members in 19 percent of the admissions. For seven percent, households had to borrow money and for another seven percent household assets were sold,” the report stated.

The survey also showed that only about 10 percent of the population had some form of insurance cover.


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