Kenya: Ambulance service for the poor helps residents of Nairobi’s largest slum

Nairobi – A community health service in Africa’s largest slum is helping poor people get affordable emergency services during the COVID pandemic.

The Kibera Community Emergency Response Team in Nairobi is offering a monthly fee of $ 1 for access to emergency services, including an ambulance.

The poor – like those who live in Nairobi’s Kibera slum – struggle to access emergency health care.

Even when public services such as clinics and hospitals are provided in the slums, the high cost prevents most residents of Kibera from calling an ambulance.

It’s a challenge Moses Omondi – who was born and raised in the slum of Kibera – took on.

He formed a community emergency response team that provides services to slum dwellers for $ 1 per month, including ambulance transportation to hospitals.

“If you have an ambulance you can easily get to a hospital because no hospital should deny you services when you have been taken there by an ambulance,” said Moses Omondi. requires emergency care. “

Annet Okumu is one of some 300 ambulance service subscribers. She said she received potentially life-saving care in an ambulance after an accident last year.

“The condition I was in was not that good,” Okumu said. “My head was really bad, I was bleeding. So maybe I could have bleed too much if I hadn’t been able to get first aid.”

Nonprofit groups and other benefactors support the service. So far, there is an ambulance for about 250,000 residents of the slum. Authorities hope to increase the number to five.

Ambulance services in Kenya typically cost up to $ 400 depending on a patient’s needs, such as a ventilator and distance to travel.

Officials say arrangements that provide public access to affordable emergency services are especially important in the era of COVID-19. Judith Okech is the head of Ambulex Kenya service.

“It is a service that people recognize that they really need, and you will find that people living in such environments, some of them have never called an ambulance because they know that if you call an ambulance, it’ll never make it, or you’ll be asked for a lot of money that they can’t afford, ”Judith said.

Residents say the Community Services Emergency Response Team hopes they will have better access to the health care they need.

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