Tackling Hemophilia in Kenya
Around 5,000 Kenyans suffer from a blood disorder called hemophilia. Hemophilia prevents blood clots from forming after a wound and results in continuous bleeding. Many Kenyans with this disorder often pass away due to the inability to pay for treatment. Also, stigma from local communities makes individuals believe that hemophilia comes from witchcraft, which prevents affected Kenyans from seeking treatment through Western medicine. The World Federation of Hemophilia (WFH) Humanitarian Aid Program, Muranga Hospital and Save One Life offer free medical treatment to low-income patients, give grants to fund small businesses, host gatherings to encourage peer support and provide education and awareness about hemophilia in Kenya.
The World Federation of Hemophilia (WFH) Humanitarian Aid Program
WFH’s work in Kenya began in 2015 and strives to provide medical treatment to lower-income individuals with hemophilia. Since arriving in Kenya, the program donated more than 17 million international units of clotting factor to Kenyans. This treatment allows patients with acute bleeding to find temporary relief.
With the consistent flow of clotting factor coming into Kenya, young children qualify for prophylactic treatment. WFH offers prophylactic treatment to children with hemophilia to reduce the risk of bleeding and joint damage in the future. As a result, children on the verge of dropping out of school due to their disorders continued with their education after receiving treatment.
Located in central Kenya, the Muranga Hospital dedicates a special clinic to treating patients with hemophilia in Kenya. Before the construction of this clinic, affected Kenyans traveled two hours to receive treatment in Nairobi and spent a significant portion of their income on travel expenses.
The clinic in the Muranga Hospital offers vials of clotting factor to stop acute bleeding. Medical professionals dispatch factor to the homes of patients who desperately need treatment. When the factor arrives, patients call the clinic and nurses teach the individuals how to properly inject themselves.
Because the clinic is located in a rural area with minimal education about blood disorders, the local community strongly believes that hemophilia comes from witchcraft. This false belief prevents affected individuals from seeking proper medical treatment. Health professionals from the clinic attempt to combat this myth by going out into the community and educating the public about hemophilia.
Save One Life
Save One Life came into existence in 2000 and aims to alleviate the financial burden of families in developing countries that hemophilia affects. More specifically, the organization helps patients by offering grants and emotional support.
Save One Life gives out grants of around $800 to low-income Kenyans with hemophilia to invest in their small businesses. The grant helps patients to expand their businesses and earn extra money to pay for their medical treatments. Grants fund a range of businesses, from ridesharing services to dairy farming.
Also, the organization hosts gatherings for women with children who suffer from hemophilia. In a meeting of almost 50 women, local Kenyan women discussed their experiences dealing with the stigma of hemophilia and the difficulties of raising children without help from their husbands. The meetings allow women to exchange advice and offer emotional support to each other.
With the help of nonprofit organizations and rural clinics, low-income individuals who experience hemophilia are able to obtain medical treatments and live more substantial lives. Raising awareness and educating the public about hemophilia in Kenya dissolves the shame associated with the condition so that affected individuals can seek out proper medical care.
– Samantha Rodriguez-Silva