Having a baby is an exciting time but it can be overwhelming for expectant parents, and if you’re an expat in another country, there are lots of things to think about. So, where do you start? In this article, we’ve looked at some of the benefits and pitfalls of the public and private health systems in Kenya when it comes to pregnancy, to help you make that all-important decision.
Private vs public
Health care in Kenya varies greatly depending on where you are. In rural areas, healthcare is very basic and usually focussed on prevention and immunisation. The Kenyan government are introducing a universal health coverage programme including a maternity programme called Linda Mama. This programme aims to provide free maternity care for all Kenya’s female citizens and reduce infant and maternal mortality rates.
The public health system in Kenya works by escalating more serious issues up the system. The first point of contact is a dispensary, which provides preventative medicine, basic health education and out-patient treatment for illnesses such as uncomplicated malaria. Dispensaries are run by nurses rather than doctors.
Health centres are medium-sized facilities that can provide maternity care. However, if there are complications or you need a C-section, you’ll be escalated up the scale to a sub-district hospital. These are similar to health centres but usually have an operating theatre and are able to perform C-sections.
Public health facilities are often crowded and confusing. However, treatment is cheap by Western standards. Healthcare facilities in Kenya have a reputation for not letting patients leave until they’ve paid – although this is illegal, it’s still common.
Most expats choose to take out private health insurance schemes rather than use the public healthcare. Anyone who can afford to will use a private hospital in Kenya. There are private hospitals in most cities, but the well known international standard hospitals are in Nairobi and Mombasa.
Many expats also choose to travel abroad when they find out they’re pregnant, either to their home country or to South Africa – which has the highest standard of healthcare in Africa and a better reputation for maternity care than many of its neighbours.