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Health Insurance Project in Kenya


Background
Only a few governments in developing countries have chosen to introduce universal health coverage (UHC). Also in Kenya there is no UHC. However, implementation of UHC could greatly improve access to medical care, health and the productivity of populations in developing countries.

 

Challenges
The survival rate of childhood cancer is about 75% in rich countries, where it is less than 10% in most developing countries, including Kenya. The main reason for this huge difference in survival is that families prematurely stop their children's cancer treatment. Poverty and limited access to health insurance often prevent them from completing expensive cancer treatment. There is no insight into the effect that health insurance has on the survival of children with cancer in developing countries. This knowledge is important to convince government leaders and policymakers of the usefulness and necessity of UHC.

 

Facts & figures

  • This research explores the impact of actively facilitating health insurance on the treatment outcomes of children with cancer at our partner hospital in Kenya, the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Eldoret.

  • All children diagnosed with cancer between 2010 and 2016 are included in this study.

  • Project leader in Eldoret, Kenya is Dr. Festus Njuguna (pediatrician).

  • Project leaders from the Princess Máxima Center in the Netherlands are Prof. Gertjan Kaspers (pediatric oncologist) and Dr. Saskia Mostert (research coordinator).

  • The project is being carried out by the Kenyan researcher Sandra Langat in collaboration with three Dutch medical students.

 

Activities

  • The study compares the treatment outcomes of insured and uninsured children with cancer.

  • In total, the medical records of 761 children with cancer were studied.

  • At the time of diagnosis, 37% of the children were insured and 63% uninsured. Of all these uninsured children, 62% received active assistance in obtaining health insurance.

  • Insured children were subsequently less likely to stop treatment prematurely. The survival rate of children who were actively assisted in obtaining health insurance is 41%, compared to only the 11% chance of survival of uninsured children.​

 

Impact

Based on this research, it can be concluded that the active facilitation of health insurance contributes significantly to improved treatment outcomes and survival chances of children with cancer. These findings underscore the usefulness and necessity of UHC in developing countries.