Thousands of cancer patients in Kenya die prematurely due to lack of treatment. In a country where health insurance is a preserve of the wealthy, most patients are forced to sell their cows or land to pay for surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy or forego treatment and wait to die.
However, a government-backed insurer has eased the financial burden on cancer patients.
The National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) now pays for the sick to receive treatment in private hospitals, even in India and South Africa.
According to Jane Kariuki, 43, battling stage four breast cancer, NHIF has given her a new lease of life.
“I wouldn’t have been alive if NHIF hadn’t paid for my airfare and treatment in India. My cancer has spread to the liver and lungs after years of being wrongly treated for pneumonia in a public hospital,” said Mrs Kariuki. “I’m a lucky woman. The high cost of treatment in India was previously unaffordable to many” she said.
NHIF has increased insurance coverage to poor Kenyans who pay 3.80 pounds (around 4.50 euros) monthly premiums compared to private insurers that charge 228 pounds (around 260 euros) for a basic cover that barely caters for terminal illnesses. Cancer kills 71 Kenyans every day.
See https://kenyacancernetwork.wordpress.com/kenya-cancer-facts/ for data on the situation in Kenya