Twelve years ago, Veronica Kabaki came to the U.S. from Kenya and now she is headed back with a purpose, to help those less fortunate have a longer and healthier life in a country that lacks proper nephrology-focused care.
Kenya lies in East Africa and has a population of 40 million. One million of those people suffer from chronic kidney disease (CKD). Resources are scarce, especially in the more poverty ridden areas.
For those suffering from CKD, there are only 40 nephrologists and 100 working dialysis machines across the Texas-sized country.
Between 2010 and 2011 Kabaki lost three family members due to the lack of dialysis centers in Kenya. She decided it was time to change the trend. In January 2011, she founded Kijiji International, a nonprofit, faith-based, organization.
Although resources are available, they are limited and for those who can afford it do it until their own funds run low.
“The demand is very high and the supply is minimal for the machines, so the costs are very high,” Martin Kabaki, director of communications, said. “Some people can afford it, but only for a while. After, they are unable to continue their treatments.”
People continue dying due to the high cost of treatments, the lack of equipment and general lack of facilities that provide dialysis.
“People stand in line day and night in order to get a treatment,” he said. “One of the hospitals in Kenya, Kenyatta National Hospital, that provides this service is the main government hospital in Nairobi. It is very congested and it has 11 dialysis machines.”
The primary goal has been to start one stand-alone dialysis clinic in Naivasha.
“We chose Naivasha because it is centrally located inland and therefore accessible from all the other smaller towns in rural Kenya. It is also halfway between the capitol city Nairobi and another big city called Nakuru,” he said. “Both the renal units of the government hospitals in Nairobi and Nakuru are severely congested and having a clinic in Naivasha will help decongest them.”
An organization that is funded by DaVita Inc., Bridge of Life, will be assisting in the setup. Bridge of Life travels to low and medium-income countries and helps set up clinics all over the world. They have touched peoples lives in places like Jamaica and Guatemala and soon Kenya.
“They will give us some machines and medical equipment. They even have a 40-foot container that’s going to be leaving from Long Beach, Ca., and they are going to bring a team of biomed and a team of dialysis nurses to Kenya,” he said.