Why am I here again?
This week I learned a lot more about what I am going to be doing with the last five weeks here in Kenya. I am working within the project Huduma Poa Sky, a telemedicine initiative that launched on June 11th. There was a lot of work to get done as we trained the rural providers on the methods that will be used and we got ready for the official launch. The day of the launch we ended up having to scramble around looking for more chairs because so many people showed up to rally behind the vision of the new program.
During the launch the keynote speech stood out to me, highlighting a reason why I love the program and why I believe so many people are ready to support it. There are many advanced health care methods existing in the world today. However, they are all clustered within cities and more developed areas. How can we possibly connect these services to all of the people of the world? As the keynote speaker pointed out, the sky is the one thing you can see from any part of the world. You can never escape the sky, it reaches every person in even the most remote corners of the world. This makes the name of the program reflect the project’s vision of spreading quality health care out from the cities. The program plans on doing this through the use of technology.
Within Huduma Poa Sky KMET is partnering with World Health Partners who began a similar tele-medicine project in India. They use rural health care providers as facilitators who can connect patients within villages to nurses and doctors in a central medical facility. Community health volunteers (CHVs) are able to visit patients at their houses and connect them to the doctor with only a cell phone. Within the sky facilities they need only a computer, printer, and internet connection to connect the patient to a doctor in a video conference, and then receive diagnoses, referrals, and prescriptions. The project hopes to reduce the out of pocket costs of health care for people in rural areas by eliminating travel costs, reducing consultation fees, and the cost of medication. Medicine is very expensive for rural health care providers because they do not buy them in bulk. However, as a part of the Huduma Poa Sky program they can now have access to sky meds which are ordered in bulk to reduce their cost, allowing the health care provider to sell them to patients at a lower price.
For the first couple weeks at KMET I did a lot of office work to help prepare for the launch of the program. However, now that the program has begun I have gotten to visit the field and interact with many of the health care providers. For my project I decided to help support six CHVs from two different sky facilities, Ahero and Shalom. We went to speak to many CHVs from both facilities to gage their interest. At Shalom’s facility five of the eight CHVs said that they would be capable of paying the 2000 KES fee on their own by the end of August. Perfect I thought, that leaves the three I will support. However, after discussing with the rest of team we choose three people who said that they would be able to pay after three months because the facility said those three are the hardest workers. At first that was confusing. Why wouldn’t I be helping those who need it the most? Then I remembered that I am here to help make a change in the community. Doing this does not always mean directly helping those who have the most need. By supporting the hard working CHVs their influence will reach more people and the program will be able to grow. In this case, choosing those who don’t need my support as much as others, will ultimately help more people.