One of the best blessings Kenyans can get today is quality affordable healthcare within reach. It is often said that many people are one illness away from poverty in this country and as much as some people take it as a running joke, it is very serious and ill health can put one’s lifestyle and finances to the ground. From consultation fees to lab fees to purchase of drugs, the cost of healthcare is just too much on the general population and especially those in far flung areas who have to come to seek treatment in big towns like Nairobi.
It is with such scenarios in mind that Equity Group Holdings started the Equity Afia healthcare program where the bank supports medical practitioners to open clinics in lower income areas to help people access quality comprehensive primary healthcare services. So far the bank is supporting five clinics in BuruBuru, Ongata Rongai, Kayole, Kawangware and Thika.
Equity Group Holdings is set to take healthcare closer to the people outside of Nairobi and Thika with an aim to be in all 47 counties over the next five years. As Dr. James Mwangi, the CEO of Equity Bank says, “Roll-out plan will break barriers that the general population have to accessing quality comprehensive primary health-care services. Equity Afia have adopted a very affordable pricing structure for their quality services and drugs with outpatient consultation with a medical doctor starting from Sh. 500.”
How Equity Afia works:
Equity does not actually own the clinics, rather it offers support services like loans from an entrepreneurship fund to doctors wishing to set up these health centers. It is also involved in bulk buying of medicine and equipment which as we know can be quite out of reach for many an entrepreneur. The health centers are therefore funded as a franchised network under the bank’s social arm Equity Group Foundation which also has a management team comprising of medical professionals like a chief nursing officer, chief laboratory technologist, finance manager and an IT manager to oversee operations of the network of existing health facilities.
In a country like Kenya which is facing a severe shortage of qualified doctors, this is quite the way to go. Kenya’s doctor-to-patient ratio is an appalling one to 16,000, according to official data, far below a recommendation of the UN World Health Organization of one to 1,000.
Way to go Equity!