AARP International
Uganda
Case Study

Utilizing sustainable technology to improve access and equity: Kaaro Health in Uganda


Subjects
Aging In Place
Healthcare Access

Kaaro Health provides a variety of health and support services to rural communities in Uganda through solar-powered clinics offering telehealth consults, consistent access to medication and training to local providers, among other needs.

The focus: In East Africa, older adults experience policy gaps concerning pensions, insurance and access to health services at the national level, and they receive limited education about healthy lifestyles and maintaining independence. Bringing together sustainable energy and novel health infrastructure, Kaaro Health aims to expand healthcare access to rural areas of Uganda to promote healthcare and prevent dangerous travel to distant care facilities. 

How it works: What began in 2014 as an equipment leasing company to help rural areas acquire medical and solar equipment has grown into a sophisticated “clinic-in-a-box” system. Kaaro Health offers solar-powered telehealth container clinics in rural areas of Uganda to provide access to high-quality primary healthcare through repurposed shipping containers. The telehealth consultations are given by doctors in one of two urban centers, who can provide diagnoses, prescriptions and continuous medical education to the clinics’ health workers. The company offers in-home health visits from local health workers as well as the only software-supported drug refill system in the country, promoting consistency in access to and delivery of medication. 

Enabling environment: In the absence of policies guaranteeing health services to older adults, Kaaro Health, a social enterprise, steps in to provide a sustainable solution. Collaboration has been crucial to its success. The company has partnered with local Rotary Clubs and church parishes to identify older adults most in need of health services and has bolstered the technical aspects of the services with international partners such as GIZ, Merck and Unilever, ensuring the company’s relevance and quality to communities across the country. The program also relies on champions of this work at the community level who are willing to start and operate Kaaro Health’s services in their locality. 

Impact: The nearest in-person clinics are typically a full day’s walk away, which is often impossible or extremely difficult for older adults. Kaaro Health addresses this challenge with its network and services. The Kaaro Health platform has established a network of 71 energy-autonomous container clinics, deployed in Uganda’s 28,000 rural villages that have 2,000 or more inhabitants but do not have a health facility within a ten-mile radius. Since late 2020, Kaaro Health has also trained rural nurses and health workers to provide mental health support and treatment adherence counseling to improve older adults’ mental and physical health during the pandemic. 


Sources Include

Sources include:

EIU communication with Asiimwe Francis Xavier. January - February 2021.

Tech-Enabled Solutions for Rural Healthcare [Internet]. Kaaro Health. Available from:
https://www.kaarohealth.com/.

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