By Brett Dobbs, KF7 Kenya
While an estimated half of Kenyans with AIDS are receiving anti-retroviral treatment, only about a third of Kenyan children are. In a Feb. 5th 2009 report issued by Human Rights Watch, the authors listed two primary reasons for the gap in care. The first, familiar to those in micro finance, is the lack of access to major health centers. Like banks, the best hospitals are located in major urban centers and cater to the slim minority that can afford steep hospital bills.
Second, many caregivers do not take their children for testing because of “stigma attached to the illness, misinformation, neglect or lack of resources.” At K-MET, Executive Director Monica Oguttu is familiar with these problems.
A third problem stems from something not listed in the HRW report. Many of the nurse or midwife run clinics that serve as many as 400 clients a week, do not offer child welfare services. With limited resources, clinicians often focus on serving adults because they are more likely to come in for treatment and more likely to pay. K-MET, fortunately, has an answer for this:
As mentioned in the video, Monica, Asuke and other members of K-MET staff encourage (but do not require) clinicians to use part of their loans to develop child welfare services with a simple argument. “If you serve the children, their mothers will come and you will have a new client.” It works.
A few weeks ago, I spent three days traveling the central provinces of Kenya with Asuke and Monica to both sign up new clinics (run by nurses, midwives, also known as Primary Providers or PP’s) and witnessed the marked differences between clinics that received our loans (and began child welfare services) and those that didn’t. Clinics that I had seen months earlier without sterilization equipment, private rooms or labs were outfitted with all three. Clinics that refused remained cramped, dirty and had fewer clients.
Below, is a video of Rose Otieno, one of the first clinicians who received a K-MET loan and who has grown her business while offering more services. She also acts as an advocate in Central Kenya and has visited scores of clinicians in her region, encouraging them to take K-MET loans and start child welfare services.