Kenya’s healthcare sector got a boost on Tuesday following the announcement of a partnership between Boehringer Ingelheim, one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies and the AMPATH Consortium that will see the two companies render their services towards improving healthcare provision in Kenya in line with the Universal Healthcare Coverage (UHC) pillar of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big Four Agenda.
Boehringer Ingelheim and AMPATH Consortium’s long-term strategic agreement aims at enabling better healthcare access and expertise for local communities and healthcare providers.
According to a joint statement by the two, this will be achieved by developing targeted community-based strategies geared towards enhancing local skill sets and expertise among medical personnel, improving referral mechanisms and services and increasing access to essential diabetes and hypertension medication.
The AMPATH Consortium comprises of multiple North American academic institutions led by Indiana University which have partnered with Moi University and The Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in a bid to exchange ideas, share resources, train medical practitioners in order to reach patients and communities in the counties and far flung areas. This is done in partnership with the local ministry of health.
Boehringer Ingelheim will support these initiatives by driving AMPATH’s programs with funding, in-kind support, and expertise as part of its In Reach Africa initiative, aimed at facilitating quality and innovative healthcare access across the African continent.
AMPATH’s Integrated Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) management program focuses on community screening for diabetes and hypertension, with those testing positive referred to a health center.
Boehringer Ingelheim will also support with the training of healthcare workers, the acquisition of basic diagnostic devices such as glucometers, BP machines, weighing scales and appropriate tools for monitoring and evaluation.
The collaboration will cover three main strategic areas of activity including equipping healthcare workers with the requisite mentorship and skills they need as well as referral guidelines with the goal of supporting care using innovative approaches.
Healthcare providers will be equipped with knowledge and skills to manage hypertension and diabetes.
In addition, a care program at all levels of the health care system will be implemented so that care is targeted and available depending on the severity of the disease.
Dr Jeremiah Laktabai, Head of Population Services at AMPATH hailed the partnership saying it will go a long way in improving healthcare in areas that were struggling to get health services before.
“Helping people means so much more than medical treatment. It’s only when we combine care with nutrition and family support, education, counseling, health insurance, food and income security, and self-sufficiency that we truly change lives for the better. At the community level, we will focus on screening and linking patients with hypertension and diabetes to providing adequate care,”
“At the lowest level health facilities, we will support nurses with training, mentorship, and referral guidelines. With increased screening efforts using various community-based strategies, we will increase access to care through both group- and facility-based care, and finally increase access to essential medications for diabetes and hypertension through strengthening the existing supply chain mechanisms, and using innovations such as our revolving fund pharmacies.” said Mr Laktabai.
Ayman Eissa, Head of Human Pharma, Sub-Saharan Africa at Boehringer Ingelheim said that her organisation will work closely in partnership with the AMPATH team to support their ability to improve the quality of care offered to patients.
“AMPATH will work on developing culturally appropriate and contextualized referral protocols for management of both primary/non-complex and complex patient populations while we will support in sustaining these centers and provide access to diagnostic devices. We will also ensure that patients with complications will continue to be a focus,” said Mr Eissa.
Improving referral mechanisms and services will also be a key component of ensuring a care system that links primary and specialty chronic disease services.
Cardiovascular disease represents an important complication of uncontrolled diabetes and hypertension that is now the leading cause of non-communicable disease deaths globally.
In Kenya, hypertension treatment and control rates have been reported as suboptimal. For example, in a cross-sectional study looking at prevalence, treatment and control of hypertension among type 2 diabetic patients at a referral hospital, good blood pressure control was observed in only 40% of patients.
As of 2017, it was estimated that there were 458.900 reported cases of diabetes in Kenya, set to rise even further to 498,000 cases by the year 2030. This makes it all the more imperative to put comprehensive healthcare protocols in place, which will be aided as a result of the new partnership between Boehringer Ingelheim and the AMPATH Consortium.
In another population-based cross-sectional survey of two slums in Nairobi, only 20% of patients who had diabetes were aware of their condition and fewer than 5% of patients had their blood glucose under control. Therefore, early diagnosis and linkage to care are important cornerstones of successful management of chronic illnesses and prevention of acute complications.
Boehringer Ingelheim partners with AMPATH to scale up knowledge, skills and training for healthcare providers in Kenya