Universal Health for all: The wins and challenges

To access health services, you are required to have a UHC card. FILE | NATION

On an average day, when referred for treatment, Ms Rebecca Owako* covers 72 kilometres by road from Kombewa to Kisumu and back to get treatment at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital (JOOTRH). She spends Sh200 a day on bus fare, this is exclusive of other expenses which she has to incur. For the last two weeks, she has travelled twice to the hospital and back to her Kombewa village without getting any treatment.
Since September, Ms Owako has had to deal with a swollen face, hands and feet in addition to less urine output due to possible kidney failure, a diagnosis made by the first doctor who attended to her at Kombewa health facility. The 40-year-old mother of four was then referred to JOOTRH, which is one of the biggest referral hospitals in western Kenya, for kidney tests.
“The first time I went; I was told that the reagents to do the kidney test were out of stock. The second time, I got a notice at the laboratory that the test could only be done for inpatient,” says Ms Owako. She is now forced to consider other options including waiting for the reagents to be restocked, having the test done at a private health facility, or travelling to Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital, Eldoret or Kenyatta National Hospital for the test.
Her choices are further hampered by the fact that she doesn’t have the money required to seek treatment elsewhere. A notice seen by the Healthy Nation during a visit to JOOTRH dated October 28, 2019, states that there are some reagents out of stock and therefore the hospital is unable to conduct some of the tests. These tests include urinalysis, renal function tests and a complete blood count (CBC), which is used to evaluate patients' overall health and detect a wide range of disorders, including anaemia, infection and leukaemia.

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