Healthy options

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KOST - making a difference in Kenya
16 May 2015

Healthy options

So I was on the phone to the doctor’s surgery the other day. Contrary to street knowledge, our receptionists are actually very friendly and supportive, but I’d still not managed to get a routine appointment much before the next general election.


I retreated into the kitchen to enjoy a moan at the husband, along the lines of: ‘you have to wait so long nowadays if you want an appointment. I’m sure it’s a plot: if they keep you waiting long enough, you’ll get better of your own accord’… as I indulged in more of this vein, it occurred to me that I was about to write the next blog post for KOST on the topic of health.

Cue dramatic irony and canned laughter: I come from one of the most privileged countries on earth (despite what the politicians in opposition have been telling us recently). If I am ill, I phone the doctor and, sooner or later, I can consult him for free; I can get the medicines I need for a small payment; I can have any operation I need, albeit after a lengthy time on a waiting list. If I am seriously ill, someone can whip me off to hospital in an ambulance and I’ll see doctors, surgeons, consultants: all that is needed until I am delivered home again shiny and new, or buried, whichever is the sooner.

However, this is not so in many developing countries, such as Kenya, where health issues kill many people unnecessarily:

Yes- I know we do what we can to help: I wore my red nose last year didn’t I? But KOST does so much more. As the old adage goes, prevention is better than cure, so KOST start by feeding the children well. Each child gets regular balanced meals daily.

Furthermore, there is a medical professional on the KOST team in Kenya and the home has a medical room in which the children can be assessed.

Good food can’t change prevailing conditions: the area is hot and dusty and accessing clean water can be an ongoing battle; malaria-bearing mosquitoes are an ever-present; and then there’s these little beggars called ‘jiggers’ to contend with. (You don’t want to know… Oh, okay you do? They’re worms that get under the skin of bare feet when you don’t wear shoes)

In these circumstances, KOST are able to provide mosquito nets, shoes, anti-malarial drugs. In some cases, KOST has treated for typhoid; sickle cell anaemia; child rheumatoid arthritis….the list goes on….and on……and when all else fails, they pay for a dignified funeral for the child concerned.

Okay, so I had you at malaria. But it gets worse: I only need type the word and you know all there is to know really-AIDS.  And it’s not just the medical effects of AIDS that KOST has to treat these children for, it’s the social stigma that causes death too. One child was lost as she didn’t want to take the retroviral drugs KOST could provide. AIDS is a very sensitive subject.

Yet through all these challenges, KOST is there for the child. They may arrive undernourished and with underlying health issues. They may be coughing and scabby, wormy and sick, (okay, okay, not a pretty picture but I’m into gritty reality) but KOST picks them up, turns them around and does their best to have them healthy and smiling as soon as possible.

And that’s why we are supporting KOST. It’s part of where the money goes, and quite rightly too. After all, as a certain multi-national grocery and general merchandise retailer says: ‘every little helps’.

Mike Okoth at Kenyattag

Child receiving medical care

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