Shofco wins award of excellence in improving access to primary healthcare services

Friday, April 9th, 2021 00:00 |
SHOFCO clinic staff at work. Photo: Courtesy

SHOFCO triumphed at the second Quality Healthcare Kenyan Awards after it emerged top in its category to win the Award of Excellence in Improving Access to Primary Healthcare Services.

On what was World Health Day, the awards ceremony, held virtually on Wednesday, saw Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO) trumped its rivals Tharaka Nithi County and Penda Health to win the award in the category.

The theme of the awards was Measuring Healthcare Quality for System Improvement and it is here that SHOFCO excelled due to their efforts in improving access to primary healthcare to the urban poor.

This has been possible through the establishment of two major Level Two facilities in Mathare and Kibera slums with the latter having four other satellite clinics through the initiative of the organisation’s founder and CEO Kennedy Odede.

For Odede, this came from lived experiences, having endured and witnessed extreme poverty as a child while growing up in Kibera, Kenya and Africa’s largest slum.

“The clinics were started from the idea that people should not die because of health care,” Odede said in February, while speaking to CNN’s African Voices Changemakers, a programme that focuses on African non-profit leaders with localised solutions.

SHOFCO established the first clinic in Kibera in 2010 with just a handful of staff and volunteers to treat communicable illnesses but by 2014, the numbers became big, serving 300 patients per day, necessitating expansion.

That is when a major facility was set up in Kibera and in 2015, another one in Mathare. With the numbers rising, there was need to be closer to the community and that is how the Kibera facility gave rise to satellite clinics in neighbouring Manatha (2014), Kianda (2015), Subra (2017) and Makina (2017).

These satellite clinics were closed temporarily last year due to Covid-19.

“Most of the people who live in Kibera and Mathare are low income earners and cannot afford health care that is paid for. Because there was no facility that offered a full range of primary health services, they would go to places like Kariobangi, Ruaraka and Pangani which is middle class or at times Muthaiga which is high class and very expensive,” said Emma Ingaiza, SHOFCO Health Director.

As Level Two facilities, the Kibera and Mathare clinics offer maternal child health, nutrition, outpatient child screening and HIV/AIDS testing, all which fall under health prevention and promotion.

SHOFCO’s community health volunteers also conduct prevention and protection through door-to-door sensitisation campaigns, identify those with illnesses that need treatment or referrals as well as emergency cases.

SHOFCO CEO Kennedy Odede

What makes SHOFCO’s clinics stand out is that they offer quality services at near zero cost as patients pay just Sh200 which covers consultation, lab tests and drugs.

“All those under five years, maternal services, TB and HIV/AIDS are free, as well as nutrition,” added Ingaiza.

For a community that struggles to afford two meals a day, this is Godsend. Odede envisioned serving the slum dwellers but the clinic in Mathare is now providing health solutions to people coming from Kariobangi, Ruaraka and Githurai while those in Kibera get cases from Kawangware, Mukuru and as far as Kiambu and Kitengela.

Wednesday’s award was for the specific efforts of the Kibera clinic in improving access to primary healthcare services and the team responsible for this could not hide its joy.

“I would like to thank the SHOFCO Kibera clinic team who have showed immense support not only in this award but in the other key projects. We believe through what we do here, the lives of Kibera people have been impacted,” said Dalmas Omollo, the clinical officer in charge of quality improvement at the Kibera clinic, after the award.

Indeed, so many people have been impacted as before Covid-19 briefly slowed the numbers last year, the Kibera hospital had served over 800,000 people by 2019 with 40,000 new clients recorded every year. In Mathare, over 500,000 have accessed treatment since 2016 with an annual increase of 20 percent.

Omollo led the team that prepared the submission and launched a campaign that was key in convincing the judging panel to award SHOFCO. In its entry, the team showed how the Kibera clinic has been key in improving health outcomes in the first 1,000 days, strengthened preventive and health promotion interventions while also supporting community health volunteer strategy.

The impact of these efforts has been an increased number of women adopting long-term family planning methods, an increase in teen mothers coming together to talk about their challenges and solving them together, as well as monthly support groups to educate HIV clients and other discordant partners.

Another major impact has seen the nutrition team provide curative and preventive services to malnourished children within Kibera, with a cure rate of 85 percent in 2019 for all malnourished children compared to 69.2 percent in 2018.

Reduced cases of child mortality and increased awareness of the community on the factors that contribute to malnutrition are some of the other impacts that were key in swaying the judges’ decisions in favour of SHOFCO.

“Quality primary healthcare still remains the low investment, high impact strategy that governments and partners need to invest in more to accelerate achievement of universal healthcare. Health promotion, prevention, early treatment and hence timely referrals is the way to go,” added Ingaiza.

When Odede started the clinics, winning awards was not part of the script, he just wanted to provide affordable and accessible healthcare to his community that had remained neglected. However, as they say, no good deed goes unrewarded.

This is just the latest on a number of accolades won by SHOFCO recently, the other ones being Conrad Hilton Humanitarian Prize Award 2018, 2018 and 2019 Quality Improvement participation in Nairobi county best practice and learning forum awarded Best Quality Improvement project at both Kibera-Langata sub-county level respectively and also awarded best QI/WIT file at Nairobi county.

Last December, Odede was also awarded a Head of State Commendation (HSC) for his incredible work in Kenyan urban slums during the Covid-19 period.

SHOFCO had installed 301 handwashing stations at entry points in each of the 14 slums they work in, sourced over 400,000 bars of soaps for distribution and reached close to two million households in slums with their free masks and sanitizers.

In the end, it is not just coronavirus that these measures help curb but also saw upper respiratory tract infections and water-borne diseases reduce by close to 70 percent due to mask wearing and handwashing.

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