Traditional herbs in a mortar. A new report has revealed that Kenyans are turning to traditional medicine to cure ailments {Photo: Tehran Times}

Fear of stigma associated with COVID-19 is keeping Kenyans away from hospitals forcing them to resort to traditional herbs, online consultation, and self-medication to cure themselves, a new report has revealed, exposing a side effect of the pandemic that has so far been overlooked but is a potential time bomb.

The Ajua Q2 Customer Loyalty Industry Benchmark Report also states that Kenyans no longer view hospitals as places to seek wellness but as COVID-19 hotspots.

Respondents cited that they are not visiting hospitals over fear of contracting COVID-19, fear of being discriminated against or being subjected to testing if you display COVID-19 -like symptoms, and financial challenges.

“Sometimes I feel unwell, but can’t visit the hospital as I fear the contraction of the virus. I fear to visit the hospital as I may interact with coronavirus patients unaware and get infected. When you visit the hospital, you aren’t sure whether the medic you’re interacting with is COVID-19 positive or not,” the report quoted one respondent.

“Sometimes, even if you feel unwell you fear to get medication since it is hard to travel and social distancing is a challenge.” “I rarely go for consultation with my gynecologist. Instead, we communicate over the phone,” the respondent added.

The biggest fear Kenyans harbour at the moment is that in the event they go to hospital exhibiting any COVID-19 symptom they will immediately be assumed to be Coronavirus positive patients.

Those who have been visiting hospitals cited strict observance of COVID-19 guidelines. They also noted that medical practitioners showed fear and were not thorough when handling patients.

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“Because the nurses are not thorough with the patients. There is that fear that one might be a COVID-19 victim. Nurses were worried. Nurses were not willing to touch me, a kind of discrimination.” said another respondent.

Respondents also mentioned they are more careful when in hospital settings to avoid contracting COVID-19.

“I am now more cautious of the hospital surrounding, now more than ever, because there’s a higher chance of getting infected. I never touch hospital surfaces or anything. Basically, paranoia takes control of each and every step I take at any hospital.” said another respondent.

Kenyans also continue to express privacy concerns due to social distancing. Most of them find it hard to disclose their private problems to medics.

“The distance between the doctors and the patient has created a gap such that you can’t disclose your private problems,” said another respondent.

Hospital

The report nonetheless listed Getrude’s Hospital as the most trusted medical facility in the country garnering a Net Promoter Score (loyalty metric) of 41 in the second half of 2020 followed by Nairobi Hospital (26), Mater (17), Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (17), Kenyatta Hospital (17).

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Samuel Gitonga is a senior reporter at BUSINESS TODAY. Email: [email protected]

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