Kenyans who suffer from hearing impairment – about 640,000, according to the Ministry of Health – and need to get assistive devices such as hearing aids have to pay for them.
Most local health insurers, including National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF), do not have a cover for hearing problems.
Jubilee Insurance, for instance, categorically states that hearing aids are part of a longer list of “standard exclusions” – meaning it is not covered – in its medical scheme. If covered, it is under a special arrangement outside the premiums paid and, in most cases, not 100 per cent.
The gadgets are way out of reach for most people who need them. A hearing aid costs anything from Sh30,000 apiece, with some technologically advanced models, such as the “aquatic” ones that the user can wear while swimming, going for Sh160,000. Batteries to power the gadget also need to be replaced regularly, at a cost.