An online platform founded on the “sponsor” philosophy has been launched in Kenya, allowing people to purchase medical packages in private hospitals for those who are unable to afford it.
Afyasend is a web-based platform where people living abroad or in cities far from their families can buy “bundles” in selected private hospitals.
Dr Akoko Orinda, one of the directors of the product said they were inspired by growing need of medical attention and low insurance cover in the population.
“Sponsor” is a common term used in Kenya, usually used in Kenya with a sexual connotation of a rich older man supporting a younger woman, but anchored on the philosophy that the one who is rich in the relationship supports the one who is not.
Dr Akoko said Afyasend will enable the needy access healthcare.
“A part from taking care of those related to you, it offers a chance to generous philanthropic people who are able in this country and would like to support others but do not have a structured way of doing so”, he said.
According to the 2016 Economic Survey, only 5.3 million Kenyans were in the health insurance, leaving nearly more than 40 million without cover.
Afyasend has partnered with Kenya Association of Private Hospitals, which avails the health facilities where the bundles are used.
The platform is anchored on Kenya Commercial Bank, which takes care of the payment methods such as cards and M-Pesa.
They are segmented into hospital, doctors, wellness (mental health, diet and exercises) and community packages, from as little as Sh2,400 for four visits per patient to as much as Sh2million for antenatal visit and normal delivery for 100 women.
Under community and doctor categories, one choses whether they want cover for general illness, malaria or maternity.
The doctors are also listed as per their specialisation and location.
The community package that can take care of more than one patient in an area for maternity, malaria or any other disease.
Eight hospitals across the country are offering the Afyasend services.
So far the partnerships that have been sealed are in Nyanza and western Kenya.
Dr Joseph Aluoch, a renowned chest specialist said Afyasend is a reminder that medicine has evolved from being an altruistic service to a business that is paid for.
“The government cannot provide healthcare for all of Kenyans, and should the private sector intervene, it should on standardised rates even to the poorest”, Dr Aluoch said.
The World Bank estimates that by the year 2006, the private health sector in Kenya was worth more than Sh20.7 billion shillings, and employing more than two-thirds of healthcare workers.