Thursday, 29 August 2013

The high cost of good health

Check up for Neema
Now Stevie's turn
 Many of the children who come to us arrive with health problems which need sorting out straight away.
And once we have restored them to good health, there are the normal childhood ailments that need treating  plus other more serious or chronic ones for which we have to see out specialist advice and treatment.
The health of our children is top priority. Mama makes sure of that - whatever the cost.
In Kenya, there is no national health service and every consultation, every item of medication, every bandage,  comes with a price tag .
Recently, Uncle Billy has been sourcing the eye care for Neema, Stevie and Harry.
Stevie and Neema  have squints and Uncle Billy took them to a clinic run by a private eye hospital in Mombasa who said both would need surgery and demanded an exorbitantly high price of  340,000 KES (approx £2,720)
He then sought a second opinion from another respected opthamologist who assured him that Stevie's squint was the more serious and called for remedial action - an eyepatch for two hours each day.
 Each eyepatch costs 100ksh  (3,000ksh (£24) a month) plus the 3,000ksh (£24)  paid for his glasses.
Stevie is getting used to his eye patch - reluctantly!
"He didn't look so happy so I decided to hire a smiley Saumu to grace the photo session - and succeed I did," Says Uncle Billy
" Not to worry Stevie,in the long term you will thank your family a lot for caring today!"
Neema, on the other hand, is having no treatment at the moment as the specialist believes that her eye muscles may well strengthen as she gets older and correct the squint.  Both her eyes are healthy and her sight is unaffected.
Stevie wears his eyepatch
Harry has been suffering from a discharge in his eyes and through with his first  anti allergy suspension , plus Ivycrom drops which he needs to use for 6 months.
Abu, three, hasn't been well either  and last week we spent kshs 5,480 (£44) for consultaion ,lab tests and medication for him alone.
And James, one of twins, is the latest to give cause for concern as he has been suffering with chest problems.
His brother Jonathan has already been identified as having sickle cell and is on regular medication.
Uncle Billy reports: " I went to Malindi for James' results which say that so far his chest is 
clear and that his is a carrier for Sickle cell, which is not harmful to him but 
might be to his offspring. 
"We spent 10,800ksh (£86)  for lab tests and  repeat chest x-ray."
For Uncle Billy, who oversees the children's healthcare,  he never knows how much to take with him as everything has to be paid for at the time.
Over the year, with a family of more than 73 children, the costs of healthcare come to hundreds of thousands of shillings - two of our children need medication all the time for chronic conditions.
We are fortunate that Jill and Mick Armstrong contribute to our medical costs on a regular basis and that Pauline Royle immediately offered to cover the costs of special formula milk for baby Athman when he arrived with us.
Routine  health check-ups, when our children arrive, are provide free of charge by a local charity-supported clinic.
We cannot realistically budget for healthcare, simply because we cannot forecast what ailments will arise from day to day.
But nor can we put a price tag on good health ... the health and happiness of each and every child is worth every single shilling.