Of late, the call for a bottom-up economic model has dominated political discourse in Kenya.
However, to catalyse economic activities among the majority poor at the bottom of the pyramid that would, in turn, generate wealth, requires a bottom-up public health approach as a precursor. Kenyan youth and the majority poor are sick and face numerous public health challenges that can compromise their capacity to benefit from the bottom-up economic model.
Examples abound. Mental breakdown and illness is a major challenge millions of Kenyans face. Setting up internet-based psychosocial programmes in the villages can help in creating awareness of mental health. Depression is the leading cause of mental breakdown and, if addressed, can benefit Kenyans in a major way.
Internet-based psychosocial support programmes have worked in countries such as Australia. They are affordable and do not require the hiring of many skilled professionals.
Infectious diseases mainly inflict the poor. Outreach programmes on vaccine-preventable diseases are not well coordinated for lack of resources and also demotivated healthcare providers.
A bottom-up approach to public health should make use of indigenous radio stations to educate the masses on the need to take up vaccines. Use of integrated technologies in vaccination programmes and mobile phone technology can substantially improve vaccine coverage through SMS reminders to mothers and child caregivers on when the next jab is scheduled.
Effective preventive measures against Covid-19 has been demonstrated through educating the masses on observing non-pharmaceutical protocols like social distancing. The challenge is, despite the threat posed by the infection, many people are still not observing the protocols. This calls for investment in behavioural studies to inform government policy on public health.