‘CNN Marketplace Africa’ Explores Healthcare Modernisation in Kenya

With this equipment that we are bringing now, we are changing the way we handle cancer” – Khadijah Kassachon, the Permanent Secretary at Kenya’s Ministry of Health

This week’s ‘CNN Marketplace Africa’ looks at how Kenya is undergoing a healthcare modernisation programme, which includes plans to upgrade 98 hospitals across 47 counties to improve accessibility.

With partners like GE Healthcare providing new technologies that can improve diagnostics and decrease medical costs, ‘CNN Marketplace Africa’ travels to Machakos Hospital, the first medical facility being upgraded as part of the programme.

CNN speaks to Sarah Wanjiru, who has travelled to the hospital to have her back checked. The 85 kilometre journey from her village took an hour and a half, but she thinks it’s worth it for a service that she couldn’t have afforded previously.

Wanjiru tells ‘CNN Marketplace Africa’: “I have not been working and my back is painful. The doctor advised me that in Machakos they are doing MRI scans, it is free and you are not going to be charged.”

Khadijah Kassachon, the Permanent Secretary at Kenya’s Ministry of Health, explains to the programme the decision to modernise medical services in the country: “The Ministry of Health for many years had not invested in the infrastructure of the hospitals. That is why we have this managed equipment programme that we are implementing right now.”

Kenya’s Ministry of Health believes advanced equipment and technology can help them accomplish their goal, so they’ve partnered with GE Healthcare to upgrade radiology infrastructure across the country.

CEO & President of GE Healthcare Africa, Farid Fezoua, tells CNN: “In the healthcare space it’s really about driving the early health concept around very early diagnostics; so seeing disease and disease burden or treating disease burdens at a very early stage.”

The impact of the modernisation programme is already being realised, as Fezoua tells CNN: “We are responsible now and accountable for delivering something like close to 600 radiology systems throughout 98 hospitals from digital X-Ray to Mammogram to Ultrasound to dental scan.”

This increase in medical equipment is providing more opportunities for Kenyans to get medical support, as Kassachon explains to ‘CNN Marketplace Africa’: “We have about 40,000 people being diagnosed with cancer every year. Most of these cases go to hospital when the problem has gone too far and treatment is very expensive. With this equipment that we are bringing now, we are changing the way we handle cancer. Now it can be handled at the local hospital.”

Wanjiru reflects on her visit to the hospital telling the programme: “I was taken to the machine, it was a bit scary, because I have never entered a machine like that before… and here I am, I’m done, and I’m happy.”

Fezoua concludes this edition of ‘CNN Marketplace Africa’ with a positive outlook: “When you look at the overall picture of Africa with 1.2 billion people in the continent, which is going to be doubled by 2050, you’re really talking about priorities around healthcare… when you see the impact and you think that if we were able to develop the right models to scale this… then instead of impacting a population of a few thousand you can impact a population of multimillions.”