Stent-Save a Life! Member Insight: Kenya

  • Kenya flagSurface: 580 367km²
  • Population (2016): 48 mio inhabitants
  • Life expectancy: 64/69 years
  • Number of cath labs: 8
  • Number interventional cardiologists: 14

The Stent-Save a Life! initiative began in Kenya in 2018 with the nomination of Dr Harun Otieno as Kenya Country Champion working with local partners, the Kenya Cardiac Society (KCS) and Heart Attack Concern Kenya (HACK).

The overall objective, reached after extensive in-depth analysis of country and system barriers, was defined as “improve the early recognition and treatment of acute myocardial infarction”.

The main challenges were the lack of awareness of the symptoms and signs of acute STEMI amongst first-line health care practitioners, the unavailability of reperfusion therapies in public and private healthcare facilities and the high cost of care for patients ultimately being referred to primary PCI centres.

Initial efforts were focused on training HCPs on early recognition of STEMI via countrywide ECG training sessions organized in conjunction with HACK. Furthermore, other partners joined the training initiative, through Parag Patel’s NGO, focusing on simulation models for ECG training which proved to be very popular. There was also a general lack of ECGs in many AE departments, though, when available, an ECG was performed within the recommended guideline 10 minutes from arrival. Stent-Save a Life!, together with other industry and international partners, was instrumental in getting ECGs to some remote centres where patients may present with STEMI but do not have access to diagnostic testing.

Pre-hospital systems were not widely available to allow an even earlier detection of STEMI, but several players were keenly involved in supporting the transport and transfer of sick patients between facilities. For the first time, patients were being referred from government to private healthcare PCI centres, largely due to regional and national efforts to harmonize financial reimbursement for cardiac procedures through the National Health Insurance Fund for all citizens. Broader coverage of heart conditions through the upcoming roll-out of the Universal Health Care program are anticipated in the coming years.

Efforts to promote training through the international annual STEMI Africa meeting proved highly successful with regional champions attending the three-day meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, last April. An even stronger representation from AE department doctors, nurses, paramedics is expected this year, on April 27 – 29th, to train even more professionals in STEMI recognition and early reperfusion care.

Primary PCI received a boost this year with the opening of a brand-new primary PCI centre in Mombasa, on the Kenyan coast, where patients now can receive lifesaving care in a region that has been largely underserved. There are even plans to now open a second lab at the Coast General Provincial Hospital, but a successful collaborative model between public and private hospitals has already proved very beneficial to the patients with national insurance cover.

Overall, several challenges still exist with regards to the high cost of stents, the transfer of patients and the low level of awareness about STEMI amongst the public and healthcare practitioners, delaying presentation for many patients. The culture of data collection is still new in many centres and the lack of a coordinated referral system makes it difficult to track patients.
Stent-Save a Life! Kenya, together with partners, looks forward to growing the momentum for improved STEMI care through focusing on training, developing referral networks and promoting advocacy for lower healthcare costs for STEMI patients.

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Stent - Save a Life!

The Stent – Save a Life! global initiative aims to improve the delivery of care and patient access to the life saving indications of primary percutaneous coronary intervention (p-PCI), thereby reducing mortality and morbidity in patients suffering from acute coronary syndromes (ACS).


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