Healthcare costs push patients to traditional healers

Thursday, December 26th, 2019 15:00 |
A list of ailments a traditional healer claims he can treat. Photo/COURTESY

Desperate patients who cannot afford treatment in public and private hospitals are now turning to traditional doctors and herbalists.

Relatives of patients sometimes walk for miles to seek the help of the healers in far-flung regions of neighbouring Tanzania.

Some residents of towns and villages along the Kenya-Tanzania border are also visiting Tanzanian hospitals especially in Tarime, Mwanza and Musoma owing to the high cost of treatment in local health facilities. 

To meet the growing demand, the traditional healers, mostly from Tanzania, have set up clinics in Kenya’s towns and markets.

The ‘doctors’ have pitched makeshift clinics in Migori, Kehancha, Isebania and Awendo towns, where they claim to treat all ailments at lower costs.

Detect diseases

“The healers are so cheap and effective compared to our health facilities here in Kenya.

So it is better to seek help from our brothers and sisters from Tanzania than gambling our lives in the poorly managed and costly health facilities here at home,” said Matiko Mwikwabe, a resident of Kehancha town.

Herbalist Paulo Marisela from Tabora says he has treated Kenyans since 1998 when he set up his clinic in Kehancha.

“I treat over 30 patients daily because I charge very low rates compared to what the government and private health facilities are demanding from patients,” he told the press.

He charges a consultation fee of Sh100 while treatment varies from Sh300 to Sh10,000 depending on what a patient is suffering from.

The traditional healers are not without controversy as some claim to use “majini” to detect “hidden” diseases and those responsible for the ailments.

Jane Akinyi, a 35-year-old mother of five,says she is a die-hard user of traditional herbs owing to high cost of conventional treatment in the country.

“I find it cheap and effective. Recently my child was suffering from malnutrition but after visiting my herbalist and giving him a porridge-like concoction at only Sh500 he is now healed and doing better,” she said.  

Lack of drugs, corruption and persistent doctors’ strikes are some of the ills dogging public healthcare facilities. 

At Migori referral hospital, a source, confirmed an exodus of patients to herbalists over costs and poor services.

A private doctor, Peter Otieno, said their charges are based on the cost of drugs hence private hospitals are not exploiting patients as widely claimed. -KNA

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