KENYA: Safaricom’s M-tiba health App to go nationwide

September 2016 TheStandardNewspaper; M-tiba, the mobile application that helps people save for healthcare, is set to go nationwide. The application, which is modelled on Safaricom’s popular M-Pesa platform, has been developed by CarePay, a financial engagement firm that helps individuals manage health expenses, PharmAccess and Safaricom. M-tiba is a mobile health wallet that allows users to send, save and receive funds to get healthcare services using mobile phones.

Speaking yesterday during the launch of the nationwide drive, Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore said the low health insurance penetration in the country has necessitated outside players such as Telcos and NGOs to tap in and help Kenyans access health care. “Insurance companies have been approaching the health cover like selling a product, instead of approaching it like they are offering a solution,” Mr Collymore said. “And that’s the reason the penetration is low. In many countries, M-Pesa has failed because companies there approach it in the same way – like a product and not a solution.”   M-tiba works in such a way that clients activate an M-tiba account on the their mobile phones and save as little as Sh100 per month. People who have dependents such as spouses or children can also send money to the dependents’ accounts.

When an individual falls sick, he or she can approach a health facility and get medical aid through his account, which he can access immediately. CarePay Chief Commercial Officer Kees Van Lede, however, rectified the impression that M-tiba works in the same way as health insurance. “Unlike an insurance policy where one can spend more than they have contributed when they fall sick, in M-tiba, a patient can only spend what he has saved,” Mr Lede said. He argued that despite being a profit-making enterprise that does not act in the same way as an insurance policy, it brings about more inclusion in providing health services to the populace. Collymore said that presently, 45,000 people have registered with M-tiba and 60 healthcare facilities are providing M-tiba services.

In the quest to go nationwide, the application will be rolled out first in Kisumu, then Siaya and Mombasa before it goes to other counties.

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