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

In Nairobi, the Kibera community emergency response team charges a US$1 monthly fee for access to emergency services, including an ambulance.

Poor people, such as those living in Nairobi’s Kibera slum, have difficulty accessing emergency health care.

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

Moses Omondi, who was born and raised in the Kibera slum, has taken on the challenge.

“If you have an ambulance, you can easily access a hospital because no hospital should deny you services when you have been taken there by an ambulance, Moses Omondi said. “It means it’s an emergency case that needs emergency attention.

Annet Okumu is one of about 300 ambulance service subscribers. She claimed that after an accident last year, she received potentially life-saving care inside an ambulance.

The condition I was in wasn’t that good,” Okumu said. “I was really having a very bad headache, I was bleeding. So maybe I could have overbled if I couldn’t have gotten the first aid service.”

Non-profit organizations and other benefactors help to fund the service. So far, there is only one ambulance for the slum’s estimated 250,000 residents. Officials hope to raise the total to five.

In Kenya, ambulance services can cost up to US$400 depending on the patient’s needs, such as a ventilator, and the distance involved.

According to officials, arrangements that allow the public to access affordable emergency services are especially important during the COVID-19 era. The Ambulex Kenya service is led by Judith Okech.

It’s a service people are acknowledging that they very much need, and you’ll realize that people living within such settings, some of them have never called for an ambulance because they know that if you call for an ambulance it’s never going to get there, or you’ll be asked for a lot of money that they are not able to afford,” Judith said.

Residents say the community service emergency response team gives them hope that they will have better access to health care.

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