Huge boost for innovative health care in Kenya

Amref Health Africa and PharmAccess will receive €9,950,000 from the Dream Fund of the Dutch Postcode Lottery. The Dream Fund grants funds trailblazing ‘dream’ programmes that catalyse structural change;  in this case that programme is Amref Health Africa’s and PharmAccess’s M-Hakika, which makes money and quality healthcare accessible to women in Kenya directly via their mobile phone. M-Hakika cleverly combines healthcare knowledge, quality and financing, all through the mobile telephone.

The Postcode Lottery is the third largest private philanthropist in the world and it will be donating a record-breaking €328 million to charity in 2016. Amref Health Africa and PharmAccess are grateful to the Dutch Postcode Lottery and its 2.7 million loyal participants for the crucial support for this innovative programme.

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“Lasting health change, which is Amref Health Africa's vision for African communities cannot be achieved without building systems that improve health access and yet we cannot improve health access without providing financial empowerment to vulnerable communities. Every day thousands of women are faced with the difficult decision of whether to provide food or healthcare for their children and food often wins due to scarcity of resources and cost of healthcare. The chance given to Amref Health Africa and PharmAccess by the Dream Fund is to build and scale up M-Hakika to give hope to women and children in Africa that finally, health might be an accessible right,” says Dr Githinji Gitahi, Group CEO of Amref Health Africa.

Mobile revolution
The mobile phone has led to an unprecedented revolution, especially in Kenya, where most people use their mobile telephones to directly transfer, save and withdraw money. “The time has come to extend this revolution to the healthcare sector. We can reach people directly, even groups that are currently excluded. This offers huge opportunities to democratise healthcare. By making use of a combination of mobile health innovations we are taking a significant step in that direction,” says Onno Schellekens, director of the PharmAccess Group.

The M-Hakika programme will allow the organisations to scale-test the recently launched M-Tiba mobile health wallet, which empowers doctors who know they will be paid and therefore can invest in better prevention and treatment of disease. Patients can rely on their local clinics being able to offer the level of care that they require. And donors can finally reach the individual directly and impact the lives of people who really need the support. But most importantly the programme will give women a chance to make their own decisions about the health of their families. With the health wallet women will be able to save, pay and receive money for healthcare – and spend it at a clinic of their choice.

Adding quality and information
In addition, the M-Hakika partners cleverly connect existing digital technologies to strengthen information, learning and quality through the mobile phone. There are e-Learning and m-Learning tools for information sharing and training of healthcare professionals, digital treatment vouchers for patients, data analysis, and a quality programme to improve the standard of healthcare. This way Amref Health Africa and PharmAccess provide information and knowledge about healthcare quality and financing to patients, doctors, nurses, health workers and donors.

The donation from the Dutch Postcode Lottery allows Amref Health Africa and PharmAccess to reach a critical mass of women and their families in the slums of Nairobi and in rural Samburu. Thanks to this initiative, the two organisations hope to set a flywheel spinning, positively impacting millions of Kenyans and their healthcare providers through better health, greater independence, economic development and faith in a bright future.

The Dutch Postcode Lottery has contributed more than €4.4 billion to charity organisations since 1989. Of the total stakes 50% goes to charity, more than 30% is prize money and 19% goes to own recruitment and organisational costs (2014 figures). There are 92 charities that receive an annual fixed amount from the Lottery – which includes Amref Flying Doctors in the Netherlands and PharmAccess.

PharmAccess is an active champion of good and affordable healthcare for the people living in sub-Saharan Africa. It was founded in 2001 by Dr Joep Lange to transpose his scientific breakthroughs to practical programmes that could make AIDS anti-retrovirals available in Africa. Fueled by this motivation, PharmAccess developed an integrated approach that is still pivotal to its activities. Through a combination of raising quality levels and the introduction of new forms of financing, the risks for all parties involved in health are reduced. Subsequently, private investments start coming in and people with low incomes are also empowered to get insurance and to save money for unexpected medical expenses. In December 2015 PharmAccess, Safaricom, the biggest communication company in East and Central Africa and CarePay, an independent Kenyan company initiated by PharmAccess that manages healthcare payments between funders, patients and healthcare providers, launched the M-Tiba wallet.

In recent years Amref Health Africa and PharmAccess have been collaborating on improving maternity and child healthcare in Samburu, one of the remotest regions in Kenya, in partnership with Safaricom, Kenya’s largest mobile network operator, and with financing from the M-Pesa Foundation. The new Dream Fund donation will serve to strengthen this partnership.