Kebab Jobarteh firstname.lastname@example.org
By Sam Mwaura/Samrack Media
Health Remittances: Optimizing Resources from the African Diaspora for Health
Remittances are an essential source of income for families around the world. An estimated 800 million people globally rely on remittances for their essential needs. Remittances also comprise 3% or more of GDP for a total of 19 African countries (African Business Magazine). Healthcare, along with daily expenditures, housing, and education, is one of the primary uses for remittances, but there are no formal channels to organize remittances for health.
Just launched, Remit4Health hopes to change that by providing innovative health solutions that will make care more accessible, affordable, and effective. Starting in Kenya, the company enables the diaspora to better leverage their financial resources to purchase affordable, comprehensive coverage plans for their loved one’s back home. In addition, plans are accompanied by health navigators who will support members throughout their health journey. Remit4Health also offers a medication wallet for those only seeking access to high-quality medication.
Dr. Kebba Jobarteh, the founder and CEO of Remit4Health, has an impressive professional and educational background with expertise in designing, implementing, and scaling national public health programs in emerging markets. As Care and Treatment Branch Chief for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Mozambique and Director of Pediatrics at Partners in Health in Malawi, he established a strong track record of bringing innovative solutions from seed to scale. Dr. Jobarteh earned an MD from Yale Medical School, an MPH from Harvard School of Public Health, and an AB in Politics from Princeton University.
1. Why did you start Remit4Health?
Jobarteh: I am a member of the diaspora, born in Kenya to a father from Gambia and a mother from Argentina. I have lived all over the world and currently reside in Mozambique. Part of the social contract of being a member of the diaspora is sending money home; if you are financially secure you send remittances back to your family.
The health of their families back home is something that people in diaspora always worry about, especially for those loved ones living in an area where care is not reliable. Consequently, of the six hundred billion dollars the diaspora sent home every year in remittances, 10-15% goes to healthcare, which is an enormous amount of money. Questions remain, however, as to the efficiency and quality of the care those remittances pay for.
Last year, I sent money home for the healthcare for my grandmother. Despite the fact that I am a doctor, I couldn’t assess the quality of care she was getting or look into available alternatives. And so I sent money and I worried. And that was all I could do. There is no organized channel for health remittances. I hope with Remit4Health, we can change the way healthcare is provided and accessed.
I started the company because despite being a doctor with many years of experience treating patients in Africa, when my grandma got sick in Gambia, I realized that there was no way for me, living far away, to make sure that she was getting good care. I could send money but couldn’t be sure that money was getting her the kind of care she needed. So I sent money and I worried. And that was all I could do. There is no organized channel for health remittances. Then I realized that all of my friends in the diaspora had faced the same challenge and decided that I would start a company that made it possible for people in the diaspora to ensure that their loved ones’ health is being well taken care of, that they are getting high quality medications, and that a health professional, in Kenya is tracking their progress.
All of our customers in Kenya have a Health Navigator assigned to them.
Health navigators are nurses whose job it is to support all covered beneficiaries by coordinating their care, providing treatment support, health education and serving as the point of first contact for all things related to health.
For family members UNDER age 65 we have a partnership with Avenue Healthcare. They have 17 facilities throughout Kenya. These plans include unlimited outpatient consultations, prescribed medications, diagnostics and referrals as well as inpatient coverage up to a $10,000 limit. Plans cost up to $380 per person per year.
For people OVER age 65, we have a Senior Care Package. This is not traditional insurance, but rather a customized care coordination package that we put together to make sure your senior’s get all the care they need. With this package your senior can keep their doctor. We make sure that your seniors have vision, hearing, fitness and nutritional screens and get the preventive care they need in addition to guaranteed high quality medications.
As long as the seniors consent, we are also able to share exactly what is happening with your senior’s health on a monthly basis. We are in the process of building a secure web portal to make that information easier to access.
How do members sign up and get involved with www.remit4health?
Th first step is to go to the website, remit4health.com, or give us a call at +1917 231-9115 or +254711082828.
We will set up a call with you or send a questionnaire to gather as much information as possible about your parents’ health. Once you share that info, we will put together a package of care and services that our clinical team determines your parents will benefit most from. We will provide you with an estimate of the annual cost and with do further customization based on additional information as it comes in.
Once you approve of the package and deposit an agreed upon amount, one of our health navigators in Kenya will call your parents and explain to them exactly what Remit4Health will be doing for them.
The health navigator will schedule an annual physical, coordinate any additional care based on your parents’ needs (I.e.: nutritional, fitness, vision and hearing screens and follow up) as well as begin coordinating any medication purchases they might require. If your parents are in Nairobi, then we can have medications delivered directly to their homes.
If your parents are not enrolled in NHIF our health navigators will help your parents enroll and submit to NHIF for them.
If your parents agree, we will send you a monthly summary of how the senior care package is being used and how the funds you deposit are being used.
We have decades of health management and clinical experience between us. As far as I know, we are the only company solely focused on making sure that remittances intended to be used for health are used to ensure great healthcare.
Through decades of experience, we have developed the Health Navigator cadre to ensure that anyone covered through Remit4Health has a trained health professional assigned to them. The Health Navogator’s job is to make sure that newly covered customers are maximizing their benefits. Understanding that preventive health is as important as curative health, we include both in what we have on offer.
We are committed to transparency and making it easy for members of the diaspora to follow how the health journey of their loved ones is progressing.
We have developed strategic partnerships with Avenue Healthcare and My Dawa for clinical services and medications respectively.
We are also using technology in an innovative manner to make all parts of the health journey more efficient and effective.